Johan Cruyff passed away today at the age of 68 after a long battle with cancer.
Players and fans around the world have been mourning the loss of the Dutchman, who is credited with revolutionising football.
The Liverpool Echo have unearthed a quote from Cruyff in which he revealed his favourite game was against Liverpool in the European Cup in 1966.
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The game is known as ‘the Fog Game’ due to poor conditions, and Liverpool legend Bill Shankly, the club’s manager at the time, admitted the game shouldn’t have gone ahead.
Liverpool were favourites to win the European trophy but were embarrassed by their Dutch opponents, losing 5-1 in the first leg of their second round clash.
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The game is seen by many as the birth of ‘Total Football’ - the Netherlands’ swarming style that led to international success in the 1970s.
According to the Echo, Dutch football blog https://netherlands.worldcupblog.org described the game in the following: “When we talk Classic Games, many many candidates come to mind. But this particular one is the Mother of All Classic Games! Johan Cruyff calls it his favorite match ever.
“And looking back, this 1966 game between the Champs of England (and probably one of the best teams in the world, back then) and Ajax can be called the birth of Dutch Total Football, culminating in Oranje’s demonstration in 1974.
“This game is since then known as ‘De Mist Wedstijd (The Fog Game)’ and without the spectators nor the tv cameras being able to see a thing – let alone a ball – Ajax beats the English 5-1! Right winger Sjaak Swart: ‘It was a fairytale, no one believed it actually happened’.”
Ajax were unstoppable
Louis van Gaal was an Ajax youth player at the time, and he managed to sneak in past stewards.
And the current Manchester United manager would have loved what he saw.
Ajax led 4-0 at half-time, with Cruyff scoring the second. They were simply unstoppable.
After the game, Shankly joked: “I wasn’t too impressed with Ajax. They got lucky. Next week in Liverpool we’ll beat them 7-0.”
As it turned out, Liverpool could only manage a 2-2 draw in the return leg at Anfield. The scorer of both Ajax goals? Cruyff.
Tributes have poured in for the former Barcelona player. David Beckham posted an image of the Dutchman on Instagram along with the caption: “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 ... The game lost a true hero today. Rest In Peace”.