“Knowing Christ is the best thing that has ever happened to me, although winning the US Open was a pretty good second.”
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Johan Cruyff, MacMillan, 2016. ISBN 978-1-5098-1390-2 HBThe book is far from a conventional football autobiography. Early on Cruyff writes: “I was never good at remembering details of games, or even the goals that I had scored. I was always much more interested in the process”. The strength of the book is the analysis of the process.
His approach to football is perhaps best summed up in his words: “As a trainer I want to enjoy myself, and strive for perfect football. Then the results happen all by themselves”. He writes about the need to entertain the public. Football is to be played, in a way that the players themselves enjoy and which the spectators enjoy watching. The best example of that is the Total Football which he elaborates in detail.
Perhaps because of his strong and idealistic views, he is often in conflict with others – the Dutch FA, Ajax, Barcelona for example. The book does not address reasons for the conflict but then I rather think Cruyff would say that he was right and they were wrong!
He is critical of England in a number of places saying that the English Premier League does little about player development and that “The English have never been that keen on tactics” – quite a sweeping statement! He feels that football is being undermined by an obsession with money adding that the problem is “most obvious in England”.
There are a number of vague references to faith, such as that his footballing talent was given to him by God. He attended a Christian school but wasn’t brought up in the faith yet his father insisted that he carried a Bible in his schoolbag. He sums up his own position: “I’m a believer but I don’t have a religion. For me it has more to do with a way of thinking and behaving, not about adhering to the details of the particular faith”.
A very readable book by one of the all time greats of football.