Saturday, April 25, 2009

25 April 1947 - I Finally Get To Mention The Washington Diplomats

On 25 April 1947, football legend and three-time European Footballer of the Year Johan Cruyff was born in Amsterdam.

A pioneer in the Dutch concept of "total football," Cruyff started his playing career at the age of 10, when he joined the Ajax youth academy. His first appearance for the first team came on 15 November 1964, when he scored the only goal for Ajax in a 3-1 loss.

Within a year, he was a regular first team player, scoring 25 goals in 23 games in the 1965-66 season, as Ajax claimed the Eredivisie title. He was the league's top goalscorer the following season, with 33 goals, as Ajax again claimed the league title and also won the KNVB Cup. He stayed with Ajax until August 1973, scoring 251 goals in 319 appearances in all competitions.

In the summer of 1973, Cruyff was sold to Barcelona for 6 million guilder, and immediately helped them claim the La Liga title that season - their first since 1960. He was an immediate fan favorite, and continued his prolific scoring, with 61 goals in 184 total appearances for the Catalan side.

Cruyff was lured away from Barça in 1979 by the Los Angeles Aztecs, who offered him a very lucrative deal in their efforts to legitimize American football. His was named NASL Player of the Year in his one season with the Aztecs. He then played for the Washington Diplomats and Levante in Spain before returning to the Netherlands to play for Ajax and then Feyenoord.

He retired from playing in 1984, but enjoyed a successful managerial career with Ajax (1986-88) and Barça (1988-96), winning multiple awards and trophies.

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