Amsterdam, March 25 (IANS) Dutch football great Marco van Basten says the late Johan Cruyff was his “idol”.
Cruyff lost his battle against lung cancer on Thursday at the age of 68. Van Basten played under and alongside Cruyff during his stint with Ajax from 1981 to 1987.
“Johan has always been an idol of me. I was always watching that great Ajax team’s European games in the 1970s with players like Ruud Krol, Johan Neeskens, Sjaak Swart and of course Cruyff when I was young,” van Basten was quoted as saying by Dutch football magazine Voetbal International.
“They won three European Cups in a row, they were great to watch. Cruyff always drew my attention. That team was obviously very good but Johan was a beautifully elegant player.”
The 51-year-old fondly remembers the time when he first saw Cruyff and says he had “too much respect” for him.
“I still remember meeting him for the first time. I must have been 15 or so. He was coming down the stairs and I was going up. I really felt an urge to shake his hand and to tell him to remember my name. But I never did. I had too much respect for him. Now that he’s passed away, I realise how much he has done for football in general and also for Netherlands,” he said.