Fancy That ! 10 Surprising facts about Johann Cruyff

We all know about his fancy turn, his penchant for smokes and lollipops, and that something weird happened in the build up to the 1978 World Cup, but what else is their to know about Hendrik Johannes Cruijff ?

Read on, with our 10 surprising facts about this great Dutchman...

  • 1. The great Dutchman was famed for his fantastic ability to turn defenders inside out with a drop of the shoulder or a twitch of his arse. But the 'Cruyff Turn' was actually down to the fact that he used to have funny turns at training. One minute he'd be smoking behind the dressing room with Arie Haan, the next he'd being doing John Cleese silly walks or eating soil.
  • 2. It was recently revealed that he didn't play in the 1978 World Cup because he feared leaving his family in the wake of a kidnap attempt. It was no such thing. The competition coincided with a new series of Happy Days, Cruyff's favourite programme.
  • 3. Cruyff was a notoriously heavy smoker. In the 1970s he was terrified of the possibility of legislation banning it in public places. Incredibly, in recent years his prophecies have come to pass. Not that Johann was bothered. He'd given up years ago!
  • 4. The Dutch have a reputation for being laid back, and Cruyff is no different. During the 1986 Westland Affair, culminating in the resignation of Michael Heseltine from the Cabinet, he simply carried on as normal!
  • 5. Cruyff took over as manager of Barcelona in 1987. It was bad news for his cat - Cruyff had named it General Franco. With his move to Catalonia he had to change it sharpish. Unfortunately he changed the poor moggy's name to Alfredo di Stefano, not realising it was exactly the same as the former Real Madrid legend!
  • 6. Cruyff steered Barcelona to their first ever European Cup, beating Sampdoria in 1992. The match was held at Wembley and to celebrate he took the lads over to the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel for some Fuller's London Pride and jellied eels. The pub was made infamous in the sixties as the place where Jack 'The Biscuit' McVitie was murdered by Ronnie Kray. The celebrations threatened to turn nasty when goalscorer Ronald Koeman spilt 'Mad' Frankie Fraser's pint. But Cruyff smoothed things out by buying Fraser another one. And some crisps.
  • 7. Cruyff is a hugely influential and controversial figure in both Holland and Spain. But not in Turkmenistan, where his pronouncements are often met with indifference.
  • 8. One of his more controversial moments was as a pundit for Dutch TV during the 1998 World Cup. Before Holland's semi-final against Brazil Cruyff insisted he would only appear if he could dress up as the Fonz, off his favourite show, Happy Days. Dutch producers agreed but wouldn't allow his request to pretend to get the VT monitors to work by nudging them with his elbow and going 'Heyyyyyyyyy' a lot.
  • 9. Some years ago Cruyff was delighted to learn that there was to be a massive event in honour of himself at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Imagine his surprise when he turned up only to find a huge dog show going on. The spindly Dutchman had got confused with Crufts! Spelling never was his strong point.
  • 10. Cruyff was once asked by a Dutch magazine who his fantasy dinner party guests would be. Cruyff thought long and hard before plumping for Roy 'Chubby' Brown, Mike Tyson, Sue Pollard, Harpo Marx and Henry Winkler.