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Johann Cryuff: Extraordinary quotes from an extraordinary player

Johann Cryuff passed away yesterday—aged 68—of lung cancer.

One of the pioneers of Total Football, the Dutchman was part of the side that played the 1974 World Cup final.

The Netherlands were unfortunately  edged out by Franz Beckenbaeur’s West Germany.

They reached the finals once again in 1978—without Cryuff—losing out to Argentina.

Holland made the finals only one more time—in 2010—succumbing to Spain.

Here are some astounding quotes from Cryuff—Player, Philosopher, Manager:

On technique:

“Technique is not being able to juggle a ball 1000 times. Anyone can do that by practicing. Then you can work in the circus. Technique is passing the ball with one touch, with the right speed, at the right foot of your team mate.”

“Someone who has juggled the ball in the air during a game, after which four defenders of the opponent get the time to run back, that’s the player people think is great. I say he has to go to a circus.”

On teamwork:

“Choose the best player for every position, and you’ll end up not with a strong XI, but with 11 strong 1’s.”

“In my teams, the goalie is the first attacker, and the striker the first defender.”

On rich clubs:

“Why couldn’t you beat a richer club? I’ve never seen a bag of money score a goal.”

On leadership:

“Players that aren’t true leaders but try to be, always bash other players after a mistake. True leaders on the pitch already assume others will make mistakes.”

On speed and timing:

“What is speed? The sports press often confuses speed with insight. See, if I start running slightly earlier than someone else, I seem faster.”

“There’s only one moment in which you can arrive in time. If you’re not there, you’re either too early or too late.”

“When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on average … So, the most important thing is: what do you do during those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.”

On mistakes:

“Before I make a mistake, I don’t make that mistake.”

On winning:

“After you’ve won something, you’re no longer 100 percent, but 90 percent. It’s like a bottle of carbonated water where the cap is removed for a short while. Afterwards there’s a little less gas inside.”

“If you can’t win, make sure you don’t lose.”

On team tactics:

“We must make sure their worst players get the ball the most. You’ll get it back in no time.”

“If you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible, and if you don’t have the ball you must make it as small as possible.”

“There are very few players who know what to do when they’re not marked. So sometimes you tell a player: that attacker is very good, but don’t mark him.”

“Every disadvantage has its advantage.”

“There is only one ball, so you need to have it.”

On tough first rounds:

“Surviving the first round is never my aim. Ideally, I’d be in one group with Brazil, Argentina and Germany. Then I’d have lost two rivals after the first round. That’s how I think. Idealistic.”

On results, quality and integrity:

“Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.”

“People who are not of my level can’t affect my integrity.”

On using computers:

“I find it terrible when talents are rejected based on computer stats. Based on the criteria at Ajax now I would have been rejected. When I was 15, I couldn’t kick a ball 15 meters with my left and maybe 20 with my right. My qualities technique and vision, are not detectable by a computer.”

On keeping it simple:

“Playing football is very simple, but playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”

On being understood:

“If I wanted you to understand it, I would have explained it better.”


“In a way I’m probably immortal.”

Shakira: What she said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Shakira soldiers on alone travelling the world.

What she said:

“It’s like being married to a soldier, except that he doesn’t die in battle.”

Colombian pop star Shakira is frustrated that she can’t holiday and travel that often with her soccer superstar husband Gerard Pique of Barcelona.

She explained:

“Gerard is anchored to Barcelona and can’t travel – they get a few days off a month, but otherwise he has to be there for his team every day pretty much, training and playing matches.

This has been a learning curve for me, because I like to travel a lot and I’m like, ‘What do you mean, you can’t go? Let’s go!’”

She added that she considers sports to be a good way to teach her sons, Milan and Sasha, the right values.

“But it’s interesting too, because I have been playing solo for all of my life and it’s very different to live with a person who has to think about his team and be mindful of them as well as of himself.

That’s why I want my kids to learn all about sports even if they don’t end up doing it professionally – the way it shapes the personality of children is just fantastic.”

Hips Don't Lie

Hips Don’t Lie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking to Britain’s Hello! magazine, the ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ singer said of her husband:

“Since the kids were born, a tender side of him has come out.

He is the one who changes the diapers and he is there for them as he is here for me – we had a conversation recently where I said that I was missing my career and he said, ‘You do your thing girl, and start making music again – I am going to be there for the kids.’

He is the rock of the family and he might be 10 years younger than me but he is also 10 years wiser.

One of the things that I constantly dream about for them (sons) and pray for, is for them to grow up really close to each other and be loving brothers, because my dream is for a united family.

I also want them to inherit a passion for what they do that Gerard and I have – whatever their path in life is, I want them to love it and to have commitment to their own ideals in life.

That’s not a bad dream, is it?”

Shakira is 39.

Pique, for his part in this tender love story, says:

“I don’t know, we’ll see what happens in the future. I’d like to sample another league when I’m nearing retirement; I don’t know if that might be in the US or South America. It’d be nice for it to be Colombia for ‘Shaki’, but no one can tell what will happen in the future.”

What she really meant:

“Being a soccer player nowadays requires not just skill but discipline as well. It’s a regimented lifestyle and Gerard simply can’t give in to my travel whims.”

What she definitely didn’t:

“When an irresistible force such as me, meets an immoveable object such as you, you can bet as sure as you live, Something’s gotta give, babe, something’s gotta give.”

Is Lionel Messi losing it?

Is Lionel Messi losing it?

The charismatic Argentinean first head-butted his Roma opponent, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, and then grabbed him by the throat. Barcelona won 3-0

The usually cool-as-cucumber Messi has been red-carded just once in his international career—on his debut.

The Barca player escaped with a warning from the referee this time.

What is going on?

The Argentinean wasn’t exactly pleased with his performances during the Copa America where his team came close to winning the title only to lose to hosts Chile in the final.

This is the second time Messi has missed out on much-coveted silverware while representing his country. The first was the 2014 World Cup when Argentina drew a blank against Germany in the title round.

The reaction in the Argentine press has not been complimentary with questions about his greatness as a player and commitment to the national squad surfacing.

This despite the diminutive genius being adjudged the best player in both tournaments. There is no doubt that Messi is the best player on the planet.

Is he meeting his own exalted standards and expectations?

Diego Maradona was swift to launch a broadside at Messi’s feats in the South American tourney.

He said:

“It’s logical to fall, it is easy. We have the best player in the world, one who can go and score four goals on Real Sociedad and then he comes here and doesn’t score at all. You would say, but man, are you Argentine or Swedish? We need to stop busting on the folks who say that we should baby Messi. Messi needs to be treated just like we treat all the other players who put on the national team uniform. He is the best in the world, for better or worse. But look, he didn’t kill or rape anyone. Let’s not turn this into a soap opera.”

Messi’s grandfather, Antonio Cuccitini, was even more caustic.

He said:

“Some of him was there. Triumphs are the greatest things there are. But the last three games he was bad. He was lazy.”

More recently, the Human Rights Foundation criticized Messi for hobnobbing with abusers of children’s rights.

Messi laid the foundation stone for a venue for the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 together with Gabon dictator Ali Bongo.

France Football claimed that he was paid 2.4 million GBP to make the trip.

Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen said:

“In providing PR services to Gabon’s Bongo family, Lionel Messi has seriously undermined the credibility of his own charitable foundation. Whereas Messi claims to support children’s rights, and even serves as a UNICEF ambassador to promote youth education, he has endorsed a kleptocratic regime that refuses to investigate the ritual murder of children in Gabon.Messi’s trip is part of the Bongo family’s PR campaign to promote the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, which Gabon will host at enormous expense despite the fact that the Bongo family’s embezzlement has left 20 per cent of the population to live on less than $2 per day.”

Is it all adding to the pressure on the AlbiCeleste forward?

Or is this latest incident merely an aberration, a blot on a stellar record?

Still waters run deep.

Are we witnessing a rebirth of Messi as a firebrand on the field?

The speculation continues.



Lionel Messi: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Lionel Messi is going, not going, going again.

What he said:

“I have never demanded anything to stay because I don’t have any intention of going. I heard people say that my dad had spoken to Chelsea, to City … it’s all lies.

I heard all sorts of things said. I never come out and deny [stories] but this time I am. It has been said that I have pushed out lots of people … Eto’o, Ibrahimovic, Bojan, Guardiola … [and] I didn’t ask them to sack our manager.

It hurts because it comes from people who [supposedly] love Barcelona. It’s people who want to hurt the club – and this time it did not come from Madrid, like other times, it has come from here. I have heard lots of things being said about me before and now. They make it look like I am the one who is in charge here when I am just another player.

Don’t throw shit at us from outside because that will only do us harm.”

Lionel Messi threw all speculation about his future with Barcelona out the window following his team’s 3-1 drubbing of Atletico Madrid, their first in over a year.

The statement allayed fans’ fears for the time being given the recent happenings at the club in the past week.

Barca have sacked their sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta and Carles Puyol has quit the club.

While president, Josep María Bartomeu, has reassured Catalonians that Luis Enrique will continue as coach, he also announced that presidential elections will be brought forward a year making his own future at the club uncertain.

Messi’s relationship with Enrique has been on the rocks with the manager keen on resting his star player to prevent possible breakdown and burn out.

Messi would rather play most if not all games.

However, at the 2014 Ballon d’Or awards, the Argentine revealed fresh doubts.

Messi said:

“I don’t know where I will be next season. I would like to finish with Newell’s [the club from his hometown of Rosario]. As Cristiano Ronaldo says, only God knows the future. Things in football can change overnight.”

What he really meant:

 “Now, now,now. If Chelsea or Manchester City are willing to bite the bait, I could still move. Besides, I can now bargain with Barca about the extension of my contract. More power to me. It’s all about negotiations, baby, and I like to be the one in the dribbler’s seat. Perhaps, I’ll get Luis (Enrique) to start me more often.”

What he definitely didn’t:

 “It’s all about continuity and what’s best for the club and its fans.”

Luis Enrique: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is piqued.

What he said:

“(Luis) Suarez, fat? He is a naturally stocky player. He is at his ideal weight and he is ready to compete. If you want we’ll give him liposuction but I don’t think he needs it.”

What he really meant:

“Now, now, now. Suarez has scored two goals on his return and yet the press claims he’s overweight. Maybe it’s all the critical newsprint he’s been chewing on since the World Cup that’s making him appear lethargic to you…”

What he definitely didn’t:

“What’s a little bite or two for Suarez? He’s earned it.”

Johan Cryuff: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Johan Cryuff

What he said:

“…You can’t arrange the chemistry of the team in two weeks. It needs time.” 

Dutch footballing legend Johan Cryuff is sympathetic to his countryman Louis Van Gaal’s troubles in rebuilding Manchester United.

Speaking to the Guardian, he said:

“I don’t know because they almost bought and created a new team. So now you have to fix it together – the team itself. It’s not a question anymore about the quality of the players, or are they good enough. But to make a mixture of good players is very difficult.”

On United’s transfer policy:

“There should be a logic always, but the big problem is to manage all these players. It’s the same thing with Barcelona. They now have Suárez, Messi, Neymar – how do you play them together? If you see them individually then they are great players. It’s the same at Manchester United. Individually they are great but they have to play like a team.

Then you get another problem. They are all famous. They earn a lot of money both on and off the field. How can you create a team and bring all these egos together? The main goal for Manchester United is for them to play well – and not have a player saying, ‘I play well, I scored two goals’. Because if I score two goals but three goals go into our net then we lose. They provide [Van Gaal] with a lot of good players but he has to turn them into a team. And you can’t arrange the chemistry of the team in two weeks. It needs time.

On whether it will take United a full season to regain their preeminent position:

“No, no. That’s too long. But it doesn’t mean they will win the league. But you can see a better performance every week and you can aim for a better fit as a team in the details. And [Van Gaal] is a person of details. So it could be possible that things work. But, once again, can these people develop their own game for the sake of the team? It’s not easy.”

On their respective soccer philosophies:

“No. Not much. We’re both Dutch and that is always a [shared] basis. But I always think of being in charge of the speed and of the ball. Maybe he knows more than me but I always want control of the ball. When I don’t have control of the ball what do I do? I press to get it back. It’s a way of defending. But more important is that I like to have the ball.

Van Gaal has a good vision of football but it is not mine. He wants to gel winning teams and has a militaristic way of working with his tactics. I want individuals to think for themselves.
…I’ve always been an individual who likes to create something himself within a team performance. I am happy if my players start thinking. [Pep] Guardiola is a good example. As a player he was tactically perfect but he can’t defend. That’s what he said. I said: ‘I agree – in a limited way. You’re a bad defender if you have to cover this whole area. But if you have to defend this one small area then I think you’re the best. Take care that there are people there to help you cover the other areas. As long as you do that you can be a very good defender.’ And he did become very good.

That’s why I believe in individual coaching sessions to prepare players properly. You have to take care of the individual for the benefit of the team – as our work with Guardiola showed.”


“Football is now all about money. There are problems with the values within the game. And this is sad because football is the most beautiful game. We can play it in the street. We can play it everywhere. Everyone can play it but those values are being lost. We have to bring them back.

In the Premier League the money is a problem but I don’t really know how to control it. If you look at England or even Spain you see the problems. How many England players are in the first four teams in the Premier League? How many Spanish forwards are playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid?”

On Pep Guardiola, whom Cryuff considers his natural successor (not Van Gaal):

“Yes, he’s got it. Normally I would say that the most important thing for a coach is that he [overcame] difficulties when he was young. Look at Guardiola and myself. Like me he was very thin and he had to take care of his technique. You see it with Iniesta and Messi too. They must do something quick otherwise they will never get there. It means that they are aware of all the details. You have to think quicker and see more things. And if you see more things you can help more people.”

What he really meant:

 “It’s a slow reaction—a slow burn if you’d like to term it so. It takes time for the team to reach ignition.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Two Weeks Notice—that’s all coaches and players need.”

Jose Mourinho: What he said, really meant and definitely did not

de: Jose Mourinho, Fußballtrainer - Inter Mail...

What he said:

"The other day a friend suggested to me that with all the stones thrown at me you could build a monument."

Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho, is unrepentant for poking Barcelona assistant coach, Tito Vilanova in the eye during a 2-3 loss to Barca. The Spanish football federation (RFEF) have instituted an inquiry into the incident.

Mourinho told Spanish newspaper El Mundo:

“"In contrast to other leagues where I’ve managed here I feel like there is a campaign against me.”

What he really meant:

“If I had the time and the inclination, I’d collect these ‘stones’ and put them to good use in a memorial.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“I’m quitting coaching and going into construction.”

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