Legendary Dutch former player and manager Johan Cruyff has been diagnosed with lung cancer, Sky News reports. The 68-year-old has been in hospital this week for tests which confirmed the disease, his spokeswoman Carole Thate said.
Cruyff, who won three consecutive European Cups and three Ballon d’Or awards during his time with Ajax in the 1970s, was a smoker during his playing career. He had emergency double heart bypass surgery in 1991 and afterwards led an anti-smoking campaign.
Cruyff was synonymous with the “Clockwork Orange” Netherlands teams of the early 1970s – their attacking brand of Total Football earned fans around the world. He also played for and managed Barcelona, whose president sent a message of support to him.
“Johan, you’ll win this one too! The whole club is behind you,” Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Twitter. Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who is now Ajax marketing director, commented: “On behalf of everyone at #Ajax, I wish Johan and his family lots of strength.”
Cruyff was voted best player of the 1974 World Cup, where the Netherlands lost in the final to Germany.