UEFA President Michel Platini is to travel to Amsterdam this weekend to present the prestigious UEFA President's Award 2013 to Johan Cruyff in recognition of his outstanding contribution to European football.
The presentation will take place on Sunday 16 February at the Amsterdam ArenA, in parallel with the Dutch Eredivisie match between AFC Ajax and sc Heerenveen.
The UEFA President's Award was introduced in 1998 to acknowledge the achievements of an elite group of personalities in European football. The objective of this award is to focus on the true protagonists – the players – and the invaluable contribution that they have made through their careers to the development and success of football in Europe and beyond.
Since Michel Platini presented his first UEFA President's Award, the honour has been bestowed upon players who have also won the revered accolade of European Footballer of the Year – Alfredo Di Stéfano, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eusébio, Raymond Kopa, Gianni Rivera and Franz Beckenbauer. Cruyff, a European Footballer of the Year in 1971, 1973 and 1974, is now added to this illustrious list.
Born in Amsterdam on 25 April 1947, Cruyff joined his home-town team Ajax as a young boy. He enjoyed great success in his first spell with the club, winning three European Champion Clubs' Cups in 1971, 1972 and 1973 and a host of domestic prizes. He joined FC Barcelona in 1973, where he scored 48 goals in 143 games and helped them win their first Spanish title in 14 years in his first season. After a two-year stint in the United States, Cruyff ended his playing days back in the Netherlands. He first rejoined Ajax and then went to Feyenoord, hanging up his boots in 1984. In total he made 704 outings in club football, scoring 392 goals – 266 of them for Ajax.
Cruyff made his Netherlands debut in 1966 and played 48 international matches, registering 33 goals. With both Ajax and the Netherlands in the 1970s, his name became synonymous with the brilliant attacking style of play which was known as "Total Football", and he captained the Netherlands to the 1974 FIFA World Cup final in West Germany.
To help mark UEFA's Jubilee in 2004, each national association was asked to nominate its most outstanding player of the past 50 years. The Netherlands chose Cruyff as their Golden Player.
Cruyff turned his hand to coaching after his playing career, and took over at Ajax in 1985 where he lifted the European Cup Winners' Cup two years later. In 1988, he returned to Barcelona, leading the Catalans to their first European Cup in 1992.
In August 2013, the Johan Cruyff Foundation received the €1m UEFA Monaco Charity Award, which will be used to promote the mental and physical well-being of children and young people.
"It is a great privilege for me to present the UEFA President's Award to Johan Cruyff, one of the truly great footballers and ambassadors for the game," said Michel Platini. "First as a player and then as a coach, he was committed to entertaining the public with his own unique brand of football.
"A phenomenal footballer who enthralled fans across the world with his grace and style, football has been his life, from his early years with Ajax to his later success with Barcelona and his memorable contributions to the Dutch national team. His social conscience is today reflected in the education of athletes through the Cruyff Institute and numerous projects adopted by his own foundation across the world for poor and disabled children, using football as a means of improving their lives."
"It is a great honour for me to receive this award and to be part of this illustrious list of names," said Cruyff. "I would like to share this recognition with all the people I have worked with, and am still working with, who love the game of football and are willing to invest time and energy into making it better. Not only the game itself, but also the organisation around it, and the important role that football has in society."
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