FC Barcelona has immortalized one of its all-time most beloved legends, Johan Cruyff, who died of lung cancer three years ago. Some believe that the former Barcelona player and coach is the father of team’s modern era, an era that has produced the likes of Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and of course, Lionel Messi. And he is not only a Barça legend, but the entire country’s: Cruyff coached the Catalan national team from 2009 to 2013.
On Monday the Camp Nou forecourt was the scene for the unveiling of a new statue honoring his memory. The club was represented at the event by president Josep Maria Bartomeu and other board members, while the former Barça player and manager’s family included his wife Danny Cruyff, and his daughter and son Susila and Jordi. Other guests included the Catalan president Quim Torra and the consul for the Netherlands in Barcelona, Dirk Kremer. The many former players included Carles Puyol, Sergi Barjuan and Albert Ferrer.
Completed by Dutch sculptress Corry Ammerlaan van Nierkerk and located at the grandstand entrance, Cruyff is depicted wearing his iconic number 9 shirt giving instructions.
Estadi Johan Cruyff
But this is not the only tribute of the week. On Tuesday night, FC Barcelona inaugurated the new Johan Cruyff stadium, the first part of the new Espai Barça, at the club’s training camp. Catalan B and junior team games are set to be played at the pitch, which was inaugurated with a match between FC Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam youth teams, Cruyff’s two main clubs as a player and coach.
The Dutchman was three times Ballon d’Or between 1971 and 1974 and scored 48 goals in 143 appearances with Barça between 1973 and 1978. He then coached the Catalan team from 1988 to 1996, a golden period in which the team won its first Champions League in 1992.