The beautiful game lost a legend today

Johan Cruyff passed away today after a battle with lung cancer. Although I never met him, or even saw him play the impact he has had on me, the game I love, and countless others is immeasurable.

Cruyff’s unique impact on football is unmatched in my opinion largely because his impact came on so many levels. As a player his touch, skill, and tactical awareness made him one of the best players to ever play the game. His “Cruyff turn” has been done by youth players, and professionals across the globe for generations. As the man that helped introduce “Total Football” to the world while he wandered about the pitch, to his time as a manager at Ajax, and Barcelona the legacy he left is incredible.

There are youth academies all over the world that have been built completely due to his philosophies. A great example of this impact that most don’t even know can be seen every time you see youth teams playing the same style, and wearing the same kits as the first team. Do you marvel at the training at La Masia (FC Barcelona), and Ajax academies like so many of us do? Thanks Cruyff. Can’t get enough of the modern day Barcelona? Thanks Cruyff. His legacy lives on through the countless players, coaches, managers, and businesses that were impacted by his teachings. Guardiola, Xavi, Wenger, Messi, and the list goes on. Just a quick check of your twitter, facebook, and Instagram feeds can show the impact he has made to the game.

Personally, and fortunately for me, Cruyff’s philosophies had a huge impact on the coaches of St. Louis, MO where I grew up and learned to play and love the game of soccer. These coaches especially my high school coach Ray Stahl taught us how to play the game, how to see space, to move with and without the ball, to do the famous cruyff turn, and what it meant to play Total Football. That philosophy, that training, that impact has stayed with me long after I stopped playing after College, as a coach to countless youth players, and as a banker and entrepreneur. I’m blessed to live and breath the game of soccer. Through coaching, running clubs, owning businesses built in the game, and helping to launch, grow, buy, sell and advise professional soccer clubs around the world I’m able to see Cruyff’s impact on a daily basis.

So today, I say thank you to the man that impacted the game so greatly on and off the pitch. Introducing us to modern football and challenging us to take risk, be different and demand greatness.

Thank you Johan Cruyff.

The man said it best “I’m ex-player, ex-technical director, ex-coach, ex-manager, ex-honorary president. A nice list that once again shows that everything comes to an end.”

Here’s all you need to do the next few days to appreciate his greatness!