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Johan Cruyff, Dutch football legend, dies at the age of 68

Johan Cruyff was widely regarded as one of the greatest football player ever and sadly passed away on March 24, 2016.

“On March 24 2016 Johan Cruyff (68) died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer. It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” read a statement on the World of Johan Cruyff website.

The Holland football legend Johan Cruyff has died of cancer at the age of 68. The Dutchman, who on three occasions was voted the world player of the year, guided Holland to the World Cup final in 1974 and as a manager he spent eight years in charge of Barcelona.

Just last month the former Ajax, Barcelona and Holland star, one of the main exponents, along with Rinus Michels, of the world famous Total Football – the Dutch style of play that involved players constantly interchanging roles – popularised in the 1970s but still playing a major influence on modern football, said he was ‘2-0 up’ in his match with lung cancer.

With great sadness we have learned of the death of Johan Cruyff. Words are not enough,” wrote the Dutch football federation on Twitter. Ajax issued a short statement that read: “Johan Cruyff has died in Barcelona at the age of 68. The greatest Ajax player of all time had suffered with lung cancer since October last year. Ajax share in this great loss and wish the families much strength.”

Cruyff, who was a heavy smoker until undergoing heart surgery in 1991, made his illness public in October last year. He was regarded as one of the game’s greatest players. He led Ajax to three consecutive European Cups from 1971 to 1973 and was the linchpin for Holland as they were beaten 2-1 in the final of the 1974 World Cup by West Germany. During the tournament his eponymous turn was first seen against Sweden and soon copied the world over.

The 68-year-old Dutch legend was an attacking midfielder and a forward player in his hey days during the 70s. Leading his team to the final of the 1974 FIFA World Cup, he later, went on to manage the teams of Ajax, Barcelona and Catalonia.

Here’s a look back at his illustrious career.

He joined Barcelona for a world record fee at that time. He went on to become a huge favourite at the Camp Nou, eventually coaching the Catalan club to a first European Cup triumph in 1992 as well as winning four successive La Liga titles between 1991 and 1994, having managed Ajax from 1985 to 1988. Barcelona tweeted: “We will always love you, Johan. Rest in peace.”

As a player Cruyff scored 392 times in 520 games over a 19-year career but his influence reached far beyond creating goals, thanks to his qualities as a leader, thinker and speaker. As a coach he had 242 victories in 387 matches, with 75 draws and 70 losses.

The current and five-times world player of the year, Lionel Messi, was among the first to pay tribute to Cruyff, writing on his Twitter account: “RIP Johan Cruyff. Your legacy will live on forever.”

The Belgium captain and Manchester City central defender Vincent Kompany was quick to follow suit. “Johan Cruyff, true football royalty. I don’t think anyone has ever influenced the game as much as he has done. We have all been touched and inspired by his vision and his believes. Football will miss him but we will never forget. #JohanCruyff.”

Ruud Gullit, who played with Cruyff at Feyenoord, said: “I’m perplexed, I thought he was getting better. Holland lost a face in the world. He put our football on the map. Furthermore he’s been extremely important for my career.”

Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Aston Villa: Controversial penalty keeps pressure on Garde

League Two outfit Wycombe Wanderers earned a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round to increase the pressure on manager Remi Garde.   

Micah Richards had given Premier League club Villa a first-half lead at Adams Park on Saturday, but Joe Jacobson levelled with a controversial penalty after the break to earn the fourth-tier side a lucrative replay.

Villa will feel aggrieved by the penalty decision given against them for Ashley Westwood's aerial challenge after being denied a claim of their own from Richards earlier in the match.

But it could have been worse for the visitors after Jores Okore cleared Sam Wood's volley off the goal-line.

The result means Villa's winless run extends to 16 matches in all competitions as their awful season goes on.

The home team made two changes, while Garde switched six of his players, with the ill Jack Grealish missing out and Joleon Lescott dropping to the bench.

Short on confidence, Villa made a nervous start as Garry Thompson stabbed wide from close range when the visitors failed to deal with a corner, before Mark Bunn had to save from Sam Wood, who should have done better with his shot from a decent opening.

But Garde's men took the lead on 22 minutes with a simple goal. Carles Gil dribbled towards the box from the right, finding Richards with his pass and the defender comfortably beat keeper Alex Lynch with a sweeping finish into the far corner for his second goal of the season.

Wood was off-target after combining with Matt Bloomfield in an impressive Wycombe move and Aaron Pierre headed over from a Jacobson corner as the hosts made a decent response to falling behind.

Referee Michael Oliver rejected a Villa penalty claim just prior to half-time, with Richards feeling he had been tugged back by Anthony Stewart as he attempted to get on the end of Leandro Bacuna's flick-on.

That decision became even more significant just three minutes into the second half when Wycombe were awarded a penalty. Westwood was adjudged, perhaps harshly, to have fouled Bloomfield as they contested a high ball and Jacobson confidently sent Bunn the wrong way from the spot.

It was almost two just a few moments later when an impressive goal-bound volley from Wood, who latched on to Thompson's deep cross, was hacked off the line by Okore.

Bacuna's long-range free-kick was unconvincingly saved by Lynch at the other end and substitute Jordan Ayew shot just wide after a good run.

Villa were even closer to a late winner when Rudy Gestede's deflected shot rebounded off the angle between post and crossbar, but Wycombe have held on.

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