One good Cruyff turn deserves another, in 14th-minute salute

Players for the Netherlands and France teams stopped play during the 14th minute of their friendly match at Amsterdam ArenA on Friday to pay tribute to Johan Cruyff. The Dutch legend died on Thursday after a five-month battle with lung cancer.
Players for the Netherlands and France teams stopped play during the 14th minute of their friendly match at Amsterdam ArenA on Friday to pay tribute to Johan Cruyff. The Dutch legend died on Thursday after a five-month battle with lung cancer.PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM • The Netherlands' international friendly against France was halted in the 14th minute on Friday to lead global recognition of Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff, one day after his death.

A huge portrait banner showing Cruyff's back and his familiar Dutch orange No. 14 shirt was hauled across one end of the ArenA stadium in his home city of Amsterdam.

Fans and players applauded the footballer and coach who died of cancer at the age of 68 on Thursday.

A seat covered with flowers and a No. 14 shirt was left empty in the VIP stand in a game that saw the Dutch slip to a 3-2 defeat by the hosts of the Euro 2016 tournament this summer.

"It was special," said France coach Didier Deschamps. "A great man like Johan Cruyff deserved such a tribute and the stadium responded to him."

Fans also flocked to the Cruyff statue in Amsterdam to leave flowers, portraits and footballs bearing his name and messages.

In his childhood home area in the Betondorp (Concrete Town) neighbourhood, fans laid hundreds of flowers and other tributes.

Leading football figures also highlighted the importance of Cruyff's impact on football.

"I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff," said Pep Guardiola, who played under the Dutchman at Barcelona. "He helped us to understand football... and he encouraged you to trust your instinct, your nose. To make decisions," the Bayern Munich manager told Catalan radio station Rac1.

"He revolutionised football and, in particular, he embodied everything about Barcelona's playing philosophy," said Joachim Loew, coach of the German team who won the 2014 World Cup.

Reports that the Amsterdam ArenA could be renamed in honour of Cruyff had earlier been confirmed by the city's deputy mayor.

"The city wants it, so now we have to discuss it with the family of Johan Cruyff," Eric van der Burg said. "It is our wish to rename the stadium. He is the most famous Dutch football player and maybe the best player ever, so it would be a beautiful tribute."

The proposal has been backed by the Dutch Football Association president, Michael van Praag.

"I can't wait for the moment when we rename our stadium the Johan Cruyff Arena," he said. "It's the best tribute we can pay him."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'One good Cruyff turn deserves another, in 14th-minute salute'. Print Edition | Subscribe