Total Voetballer

Ciaran Kelly
Johan Cruyff
The Total Voetballer
Derby, JMD Media, 2012 
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This is an exhaustive, colourful and meticulously-researched biography of one of the 20th Century sport’s most iconic figures. Few words can sum up the figure of Johan Cruyff, one of football’s most complex, paradoxical, controversial and three-dimensional figures. From his early beginnings in Akkerstraat, as one of the embodiments of the post-war baby boom generation with his maakbaarheid (expansion in mental and philosophical capabilities), Cruyff was destined to have a huge impact on the soon to be trademark hallmarks of the post-war Netherlands: an embracement of freedom, culture, art and individualism.

Cruyff went on to become the greatest and most iconic (from the twin Adidas stripes to his pioneering of a celebrity lifestyle and beyond) footballer of his generation – winning three Ballon d’Ors, ten domestic titles and three European Cups (but, ultimately, ruing the failure to win the 1974 World Cup) – and re-defining Rinus Michels’ revolutionary total football philosophy. Cruyff then went on to follow in his mentor’s footsteps, managing at both Ajax and Barcelona, and – arguably, remarkably – left an even bigger impact on football as a manager: recovering both of his former club’s lost identities as the trailblazers of totaalvoetbal and youth development, and setting the tone for their future and respective successes in the 90s and 00s. Even to this day, Cruyff is never far from the headlines – desperately preserving his message and methods as el hombre de los dedos largos (the man with the long fingers) – and he is sure to continue to make his voice heard, even if he has just become an official pensioner at the age of sixty-five.