XXXIV - Johan Cruyff: Game Changer

XXXIV - Johan Cruyff: Game Changer

Grand rising Reader,

Hopefully you've had some sun in the past few days.

In the UK when it finally comes out, everyone's mood is instantly elevated.

The greatest natural medicine.

In this edition, we are going to explore the life and career of Johan Cruyff (heavily watered down - I could write a book on this).

Cruyff was a footballing legend, and I don't need to tell you how much influence he had if you've followed the game.

Skills are named after him now: "The Cruyff Turn"

But it wasn't so simple.

Cruyff had plenty of hurdles personally and professionally he had to jump over...

Humble Beginnings

Johan Cruyff's introduction to football was almost fated, as he grew up next to Ajax’s stadium.

His early life was filled with challenges, notably the loss of his father when he was just age 12. Losing a parent at such a young age is extremely difficult to deal with, and Cruyff need something to focus on.

This was when he saw football.

His talent was nurtured from a young age by Ajax who helped mentor him after finding his potential greatness.

They helped developed his skills and understanding of the game, while also supporting him in his personal life.

A Footballing Great

Cruyff's ascendancy at Ajax brought about an era of dominance, where he helped Ajax win three consecutive European Cups; the most prestigious trophy in club football.

His eventual transfer to Barcelona came in 1973 after Spanish governments lifted a ban on foreign players.

This symbolised a cultural shift.

At Barcelona, he wasn't just a player.

He became a revolutionary figure, lifting the club to its first La Liga title in 14 years and becoming embedded in Catalan identity.

But it wasn't so simple.

He had many injuries, which for some... would have been career ending.

It's Business

Off the field, Cruyff was as equally influential.

His savvy understanding of his market worth led to groundbreaking contracts that helped elevate the financial status of athletes in world football.

His ventures into sports academies helped spread his football philosophy globally, demonstrating the importance of leveraging your own expertise.

"If you're good at something, never do it for free" - The Joker

Cruyff’s transition into a business figure highlights the critical nature of modern personal branding...

Do you see the resemblance?

Total Football

Cruyff didn’t just play football; he thought about it differently to anyone who had set foot on the pitch.

He developed Total Football, a system where any player could adapt to play in any position.

This mirrored his belief in versatility not just on the pitch; but to life in general.

This philosophy broke the mould of traditional football and why Cruyff went down as one of the greatest of all time.


One of the darkest moments in Cruyff's life came off the pitch with the attempted kidnapping in 1977.

This incident impacted his worldview, leading to his withdrawal from the 1978 World Cup; a decision that prioritised his family’s safety over his footballing career.

It had the talk all over Europe.

In the previous World Cup, Cruyff had dragged Netherlands to the Final before suffering a defeat.

It was an overachievement, and perhaps if Cruyff was at the 1978 World Cup, things could have been different for the Netherlands.

What can we learn from Cruyff to apply to our own game of life?

Sometimes I talk about my own stories, sometimes others.

But it's futile unless we can learn something.

The traditional family is being damaged, and with so many people growing up without parents, it can have disastrous consequences.

Just like Cruyff found mentorship at Ajax, we ourselves, must have our own mentors to move forward in the game of life.

Cruyff also faced several injuries, some of which could have been career ending.

But he never quit, and always found a way to return.

Just like you should in the game of life.

Even though he was the greatest player in the world, that didn't stop him from becoming business savvy and getting the contracts he deserved.

This set him up for later in his life as inevitably his football career would one day come to an end.

"One thing" can only get you so far.

Remember Runescape?

Build out multiple skills.

Be ready to adapt, you do not know what will happen in the future.

And probably the most important lesson we can take from Cruyff.

He had the chance to go to the World Cup again and possibly win it this time.

For the majority of footballers, this is the dream.

But family comes first.

After the failed kidnapping, his family's safety was everything.

Your family, blood and non-blood, should be your top priority.

The Game of Life

Former NPC turned entrepreneur. Join hundreds of readers where each newsletter is a quest towards conquering personal growth, business success, and finding purpose in every moment.

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