Johan Cruyff one of the greatest Dutch footballers of all time lost his battle to lung cancer on Thursday aged 68.
Cruyff was diagnosed with the disease in October and only recently featured in a Catalan health department advert, saying: “Football has given me everything in life, tobacco almost took it all away.”
The former Barca star was a smoker for many years but after quitting smoking in 1991 could be seen suckin on lollipops.
A statement on his website said: “On March 24 2016 Johan Cruyff (68) died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer. It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
The Dutchman had a glittering career starting with playing for Ajax, then moving on to FC Barcelona, for a then world record transfer fee of $2.0 million. He won the Ballon d’Or three times before going on to become a highly successful manager after he had retired from playing in 1984.
During his time with Ajax he won three consecutive European Cups from 1971-73, he coached Barcelona to their first European Cup triumph and helped the Dutch reach the 1974 World Cup final, where they lost 2-1 to West Germany.
The football community took to social media today with an outpouring of sadness and shock to Cruyff’s death with tweets from:
@FC Barcelona “We’ll always love you, Johan. Rest in peace”
@GaryLinekar “Sad to hear that Johan Cruyff has died. Football has lost a man who did more to make the beautiful game beautiful than anyone in history.”
@VincentKompany “RIP Johan Cruyff, true football royalty. I don’t think anyone has ever influenced the game as much as he has done.We have all been touched and inspired by his vision and his believes. Football will miss him but we will never forget”
@SergioRamos “Goodbye to one of the all-time legends of football. Player and coach ahead of his time. RIP Johan Cruyff”
@Falcao “We always will remember @JohanCruyff as a real legend”
@J_Klinsmann “Very sad news about the death of legend Johan Cruyff. What an amazing player, Coach, teacher and person he was: http://johancruyffinstitute.com/en/ “