Johan Cruyff of the Netherlands during the World Cup Qualifier match between the Netherlands and Belgium on 26 October, 1977 at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Photo: VI Images via Getty Images
Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff running at the Ipswich defender John Stirk while playing for Barcelona. Photo: John Minihan/Getty Images
Johan Cruijff of DS '79 during a friendly match between Chelsea and DS '79 from Dordrecht on 12 January, 1981 at Stamford Bridge in London, England Photo: VI Images via Getty Images
Johan Cruijff of the Netherlands during the World Cup Qualifier match between the Netherlands and Belgium on 26 October, 1977 at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Photo: VI Images via Getty Images
Argentinian soccer team goal Carnevali (L) tried to catch the ball from Netherlands forward Johan Cruyff, 26 June, 1974 in Gelsenkirchen, during the 10th soccer world cup match Argentina vs Netherlands. Photo: Getty Images
6 March 1969: Dutch player, Johan Cruyff one of the key players in the Ajax win in the European Cup at Colombes, gets to the ball. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images
Football, 1974 World Cup Final, Olympic Stadium, Munich, Germany, 7th July 1974, West Germany 2 v Holland 1, Holland's Johan Cruyff on the ball with Wim Suurbier (20) supporting. Photo: Bob Thomas/Getty Images
Football: 1974 World Cup Finals, Hannover, West Germany, 15th June, 1974, Holland 2 v Uruguay 0, Holland's Johan Cruyff on the ball. Photo: Bob Thomas/Getty Images
Johan Cruijff of Ajax during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and ADO for the championship on may 26, 1968 at stadium de Meer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Photo: VI Images via Getty Images
Willem van Hanegem of Feyenoord (L), Johan Cruijff of Ajax (R) during the match between Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord om March 3, 1973 at the olympic stadium in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Photo: VI Images via Getty Images
Photo: Herbert Kronfeld/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Sport, Football, pic: 23rd June 1974, 1974 World Cup Finals in West Germany, Holland 4, v Bulgaria 1, in Dortmund, Holland's Johan Cruyff, right, is challenged by Bulgaria's Kiril Ivkov. Photo: Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images
Johan Cruyff, captain of Barcelona, is escorted off the field by police during the Barcelona Vs Malaga match in Malaga, for repeatedly opposing the referee's decision. Malaga eventually beat Barcelona 3-2. Photo: Central Press/Getty Images
Aad Mansveld of FC Den Haag (L), Johan Cruijff of Ajax (R) during the match between FC Den Haag and Ajax Amsterdam on January 2, 1972 at The Hague, Netherlands. Photo: VI Images via Getty Images
In photo: Johan Cruyff, the Total Footballer that he was
To say Johan Cruyff revolutionised football would be an understatement. At a time when Italy's defensive stylings dominated world football, Cruyff's footballing genius led an Oranje uprising that defined the dynamic and fast-paced game we know today.
Cruyff learned the philosophy of Total Football - a fluid attacking philosophy that relied on possession and passing - from his national team coach Rinus Michels during the mid 70s. An astute tactician on the field, Cruyff orchestrated his teams play, scoring goals at will, and creating space for teammates with his movement.
His achievements on the field were enough to put him in the pantheon of footballing greats, but it's what he did with the idea of Total Football that elevated Cruyff above all others.
Cruyff went from being a player, to a student of the game. He devoted not just his body but his brain to the game of football. Going from the centre of the field to the touchlines, Cruyff refined Michels' idea of Total Football, making it his own.
As a manager his version of Total Football was wildly successful, leading to multiple titles at both Barcelona and Ajax. So successful was his philosophy that both teams continue to implement it even today. In fact, Spain's domination of the world game from 2008 onwards is the result of the Cruyff style of play.
Barcelona's wildly successful La Masia youth set-up is yet another brain-child of Cruyff. As a product of Ajax's prolific youth set-up, Cruyff implemented a similar set up in Barcelona. It has produced some of modern football's greatest names, from Iniesta to Messi, and all stamped with Cruyff's Total Football philosophy.
His intelligence didn't just produce great players, it produced great coaches. From Frank Rijkaard to Ronald Koeman to Hristo Stoichkov and, most notably, Pep Guardiola, a large number of Cruyff's players have gone on to have hugely successful careers.
Football may have lost the Total Footballer, but his genius means that we will never long for Total Football again.
Photo curation by Kaushik Ramaswamy
Edited by Sahil Bhalla