Before the tiki-taka made famous by Messi and co. under Pep Guardiola, Barca were already a beloved team in Trinidad and Tobago, and the world over,despite having a paltry one european cup to their name. However, their fame was based less on trophies and on their style of play which was down to a dutch influence and pioneered by one Johan Cruyff.
Cruyff passed today after a battle with lung cancer at the age of 68. Cruyff was widely considered as part of a holy triumvirate of football, along with Pele and Beckenbauer, as they were the star turns when football first started to be available for regular viewing on television. He was educated in the famed dutch Ajax academy and was the key exponent of "total football" made famous by the dutch team that reached consecutive World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978.
After leading Ajax to three consecutive European Cups from 1971 to 1973, which at that time was the second only to Real Madrid, Cryuff left to join his mentor Rinus Michel who was managing Barcelona. There, they combined to introduce "total football" to Barca and lay the foundation for what we know the club to be today. Cryuff went one further than Michels though, by returning to the club as manager in the late eighties leading them to their first European Cup in 1992 with a team that included Pep Guardiola.
Cruyff remained in an administrative role at the club after also serving as both manager and administrator at Ajax, the other club with which he is most closely linked. One of Cryuff's greatest quotes reads " Winning is an important thing, but to have your own style, to have people copy you, to admire you, that is the greatest gift". When considering that these two clubs definitely possess a style, an identity, in the way they play; one that is copied the world over by most academies, it is no doubt that Johann Cruyff has left an indelible mark in footbal. His contribution and presence will be sorely missed by any true fan of the beautiful game.