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Johan Cruyff's Genius Captured in 14 Yoda-like Quotes

Johan Cruyff's Genius Captured in 14 Yoda-like Quotes
By Conor Neville Updated

Off the field, Johan Cruyff was known for his pithy aphorisms on the beautiful game.  He delighted in holding forth on the game and was often caustic in his opinions. His nuggets of wisdom are as true today as they were in his pomp. Here are some timeless pearls of wisdom.

Johan on religion

He did not see much benefit in blessing oneself before jogging out on the pitch. A highly logical take on the phenomenon. Jesus loves all of us, after all, not just Latin American footballers. 

Johan on mistakes

James Joyce famously said that men of genius don't make mistakes. Rather, their errors 'are volitional and portals of discovery'. 


Here is another genius's take on mistakes. He adhered to the maxim that men like him don't make them. 

'Before I make a mistake, I don't make that mistake.'

Johan on losing hunger


Spoken like a man who has kept a close on the All-Ireland senior football championship over the past quarter of a century.

'After you've won something, you're no longer 100%, but 90%. It's like a bottle of carbonated water where the cap is removed for a short while. Afterwards there is a little less gas inside.'

Johan on his methods


The uncomprehending were to be kept in the dark.

'If I had wanted you to understand, I would have explained it better.'

Johan on performing seals


Big Ron used to call them 'amusement arcades'.

'Someone who has juggled the ball in the air during a game, after which four defenders of the opponent get the time to run back, that’s the player people think is great. I say he has to go to a circus.'

Johan on the need for balance 


Years later, a Real Madrid President concluded that this was a load of 'bollocks'. But one wonders whether the people steering things at Manchester City are listening.  

'Choose the best player for every position, and you’ll end up not with a strong XI, but with 11 strong 1’s.'


Johan on beauty v the bottom line

Giovanni Trapattoni never fretted as much about boredom.

'Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.'

Johan on money

Don't be playing the poor mouth. Wonga doesn't determine everything. 

'Why couldn’t you beat a richer club? I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.'

Johan on not having the ball

Mindblowing. Johan was the visionary behind Sky's player cam.

'When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on average … So, the most important thing is: what do you do during those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.'

Johan on space

Coaches still live by this philosophy. Defenders must condense space, attackers must find it.

'If you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible, and if you don’t have the ball you must make it as small as possible.'

Johan on intelligence

I believe another man was grappling for the same point when he uttered the words 'Down there's for dancing'

'You play football with your head, and your legs are there to help you'

Johan on what it's all about

Listen up amusement arcades

'Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1000 times. Anyone can do that by practicing. Then you can work in the circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your team mate.'

Johan on simplicity

Any clown can make something look difficult.

Johan on endings


'I’m ex-player, ex-technical director, ex-coach, ex-manager, ex-honorary president. A nice list that once again shows that everything comes to an end.'

Read more: Johan Cruyff Has Passed Away At The Age Of 68

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