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Johan Cruyff – A Timeline: Reliving the key moments that made Netherlands great & Barcelona legend a true icon

The world lost one of football’s true greats on Thursday when Johan Cruyff lost his battle with cancer.

The 68-year-old died in Barcelona, as confirmed in a statement on his official website.

The forward reached the World Cup final with the Netherlands in 1974, and also enjoyed great success with both Ajax and Barcelona, the latter as both a player and a coach.

He won three European Cups in a row with Ajax, and played a major part in the development of Total Football and shaped the game’s progress and the futures of some of the game’s key actors.

But what were the key moments that built the legend of Cruyff and how did the Barcelona icon become one of the game’s all-time greats?

Johan Cruyff

1947: Born in Amsterdam, only five minutes away from Ajax’s De Meer Stadium.

1964: Made his first-team debut for Ajax, scoring against GVAV in a 3-1 defeat.

1966: Scored 25 goals in 23 games as Ajax won the Eredivisie title.

1969: Wins the Dutch Footballer of the Year award for the third consecutive season.

1970: Scored six goals against AZ ’67 as Ajax ran out 8-1 winners.

Cruyff Barcelona

1971: Helped Ajax win the European Cup, defeating Panathinaikos 2-0 in the final.

1971: Cruyff wins his first Ballon d’Or, taking the award from his rival at Bayern Munich, Gerd Muller.

1973: After losing the Ballon d’Or to Franz Beckenbauer in 1972, Cruyff reclaimed the title in 1973, becoming only the second player—after Alfredo Di Stefano—to win the award for the second time.

1973: Cruyff signs for Barcelona, becoming the world’s most expensive player at the time. He would go on to win La Liga in his first season at the club, ending Barca’s 13-year drought for a league title.

1974: The playmaker dazzled at the 1974 World Cup as his awesome Dutch side tore to the World Cup final and took the lead against Germany, only to lose their momentum and fall to a defeat. Cruyff may have missed out on a winner’s medal, but he was named the tournament’s best player.

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1974: He may have lost the World Cup final, but Cruyff became the first-ever player to retain the Ballon d’Or—only Kevin Keegan, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Lionel Messi have done so since—and the first to win it on three occasions.

1988: Returned to Barcelona as coach; his ‘Dream Team’ would win the Spanish title four times between 1991 and 1994.

1999: The Amsterdam-born star was voted European Player of the Century by the IFFHS, coming second behind only Pele in their World Footballer of the Year poll.

2002: Cruyff made the Fifa World Cup all-time dream team.

2004: Named by Pele in the Fifa 100, the Brazil legend’s personal list of the greatest living players.

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