David Beckham has paid a warm tribute to the legendary Johan Cruyff, who has died of cancer aged 68.
The former England captain described the football icon as “one of the greatest men and nicest person you could meet”.
Cruyff was named European Footballer of the Year three times during his illustrious career and is universally regarded as one of the best players of all time.
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“My thoughts and love are with the friends and family of not just one of the best footballers in the history of the game but also one of the greatest men and nicest person you could meet,” Beckham wrote on Instagram, shortly after the news broke on Friday afternoon.
“The game lost a true hero today 🇳🇱 Rest In Peace @fcbarcelona @england”.
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Beckham is one of a host of current and former footballers to pay tribute to Cruyff.
Dutch brothers Frank and Ronald de Boer described Cruyff as the “greatest footballer of all time” on Twitter, while Ruud Gullit - another former Netherlands international - called him his “biggest inspiration and teacher”.
Barcelona stars including Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique and Ivan Rakitic have also paid tribute to the iconic Dutchman on social media.
The Dutch FA, meanwhile, said: "Words can hardly be found for this huge loss.
“The greatest Dutch footballer of all time and one of the world's best ever. Our condolences go to his wife, family, friends and the entire football world at home and abroad. We wish everyone a lot of strength in this difficult time."
Cruyff's illustrious playing and managerial career
Cruyff is synonymous with Ajax and Barcelona, as well as the Dutch national team, but he also enjoyed spells in the United States with Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats.
He also spent some time with Levante, before re-joining Ajax and then finishing his career in 1984 with Feyenoord.
Cruyff never won the World Cup, although he reached the final with the Orange in 1974.
As well as a hugely successful playing career, Cruyff also enjoyed plenty of success as a coach.
He won the Dutch Cup twice and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup with Ajax, and won even more silverware with Barcelona.
At the Camp Nou, Cruyff won four La Liga titles, the Copa del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the European Cup in 1992.
Is Johan Cruyff the greatest European player of all time? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
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