Pep Guardiola, former player and manager of Barcelona, was one of Johan Cruyff’s disciples. In quotes to Jordi Baste on RAC1, Guardiola has spoken about his memories of the Dutch great saying “it was a privilege to be able to enjoy him for all this time.”
Guardiola said that “we can no longer go and see him when we want, but his legacy is something which will stay with us. What we had the chance to experience and enjoy ourselves on a personal level, I must admit that it’s left us with a lot things. Things which some of us use as coaches, others as commentators. If we decided to become coaches, it’s because he instilled the idea in us that you can dominate the game. Cruyff helped us do that.”
The current Bayern Munich manager also revealed what he said to his son after Cruyff’s passing: “This Thursday when I went out to dinner with my kids, Marius, my son, who didn’t know Cruyff as a player of a manager, asked me what was happening. I told him that Cruyff is like that teacher whose class you’re always waiting for. As a player, you were only waiting for his class. And my son said to me: ‘Like Merlin?’ He was a special person. He would tell us we were playing poorly because we were running too much. Everything you’d heard during your career didn’t serve for anything - he explained the opposite.”
Guardiola gave another anecdote, explaining that during a game again Hiddink’s Valencia “we played with a defence of three, with Eusebio as a full-back. We asked if he had gone crazy, but we won 3-0 and with some great play. He opened our eyes to another way, that’s why we’re his followers. It’s a privilege to have enjoyed him as a manager, above all for the knowledge he’s given us. We’ve been lucky.
“He had faith in what he was doing. It’s no coincidence that [Andoni] Zubizaretta and Txiki [Begiristain] are great sporting directors. He helped us understand football. It’s a huge loss.
“It was important to go to his house to listen to his knowledge. His advice was important. He would encourage you to follow your instinct, your nose, to take decisions. He would tell you if you could be guided by your instinct, you would never fail. Sometimes I ask myself what Johan would do. Against Juventus when we had the rope prepared around our necks, it happened and I was able to move forward.
“When I started out I knew nothing about football. I didn’t know how to interpret it. He opened this world for us. It’s such a fascinating world, a film, a constant shock. He opened our minds to see football in another way. He protected me when I started out in football. Every day he would put me in my place. He gave me a football lesson about how I should behave, how I should deal with the media… His legacy is infinite.
“The great work at Barcelona’s academy is thanks to Cruyff. He told us what we should do. There can be people with the same knowledge as him, but knowledge alone isn’t worth anything. It’s necessary to use it and that’s what he did. He persisted in his ideas. That’s what made him a worldwide reference for the last 25 years.”
In regards to how we will remember Johan Cruyff, Guardiola said: “As a player and as a manager he won a lot of titles, but that’s not his legacy. The titles only help. Johan has changed two clubs. Not only did he change Ajax, but also Barcelona - and then the Dutch and Spanish national teams, too. Forget the titles. I’ve won more titles than him. Messi, for example, is someone runs less and in that he’s the best of Cruyff’s alumni.
“I would not have been capable of doing what he did at Barcelona. He changed everything. He did it all. What Cruyff’s done for football cannot be compared. The statue thing is superficial. He has made us love this sport so openly that there’s no way we can forget him.”
XAVI AND INIESTA
“I am convinced that Xavi, [Sergio] Busquets and Andres [Iniesta] will continue with his legacy. I’ve taken it on and they are capable of doing it in the future. I have no doubt that Xavi will be a manager. If he and Barcelona maintain this idea, this culture will continue at the club. As long as the academy continues working in the same way, with its methodology of work, it will be a wheel."