Saying goodbye to a legend

While many people argue that Johan Cruyff was the most influential man that our beautiful game has ever had the honour of witnessing, there is no doubt that his genius will be forever etched in the minds of football fans across the globe.

The Dutchman, who not only won the European Cup three years in a row and reached the World Cup final, also thrived at managerial level, with four successive titles and the European Cup to his name whilst managing Barcelona.

However, his immense skill, ability and countless trophies are only a mere fraction of what makes Johan Cruyff a legend, as it was he who put his stamp on the game, revolutionising it in so many ways, from his philosophy of ‘Total Football’ to his world renowned ‘Cruyff Turn’.

Total Football was an idea he had taken from Holland, and whilst managing Barcelona, he successfully implemented the style on not only the first team, but later on all the youth teams at the famous ‘La Masia’ academy also, and it is a philosophy that has taken the club to new heights in the past decade.

Whilst the original idea of Total Football, where any outfield player could take up any position in the team, has been adapted and changed throughout the years, Cruyff’s mark still stays firmly in place on the current style of play aswell.

The fact that Barcelona have managed to produce so many home-grown talents in recent years who all play the same way shows that Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ of the 90’s has played a huge part in the success of Pep Guardiola’s treble winning team of 2009 and Luis Enrique’s team of 2015, and it also shows that FCBarcelona have so much to thank Johan Cruyff for.

His famous ‘Cruyff turn’ has also survived all the way through the years since his playing days, and can be seen so many times in the modern game, once again, all thanks to Cruyff.

In truth, there are many, many more ways in which Cruyff has changed the game for the good of all those who love football, but it would be impossible to pinpoint every single one of those things.

From an outstanding player who is no doubt one of the best we’ve ever seen, to a manager who’s ideas in the 90’s are still affecting the game today, Johan Cruyff’s untimely death has left the game in shock – but we’ll never forget what he’s done for it – thank you, Johan.

The new world beaters #3 Kevin De Bruyne

From not making the grade at Chelsea to setting the Premier League alight in his first season at Manchester City, Kevin De Bruyne could be something special, if, of course, he isn’t already.

The Belgian, who is still just 24 years old, has big potential, and the move to City could be his big chance to show the world what he’s made of.

He has been very impressive so far in England, but it didn’t all go his way in his last spell in this country.

After being signed from Genk in 2012, De Bruyne went through various loan spells in both Belgium and Germany, before Jose Mourinho said he wanted him back at Chelsea, and so he returned to London for the start of the 2013/14 season.

However, it was suggested that De Bruyne was promised more game time than he actually got, and after just half a season and very little game time, the Belgian took it upon himself to tell Mourinho that he wanted to leave.

And in January 2014, his time at Chelsea was up, as Wolfsburg brought him to Germany for a fee of £15m.

This move, De Bruyne thought, would give him a significantly increased chance of playing at the World Cup that summer, and it seemed to work a treat as the Belgian had an exceptional qualifying campaign, dazzling defences with goals, assists and all round impressive play. The end result was a place booked in Brazil.

His good qualifying campaign was accompanied by an equally good start to life at Wolfsburg, and in the end it was inevitable that he would be called up for his country’s World Cup squad that summer.

On the whole, the tournament didn’t go too badly, but there is still a sense that Belgium could have gone further than the quarter finals, where they were knocked out to eventual runners up Argentina in a 1-0 defeat. De Bruyne had a reasonable tournament and he scored an extra time goal as they saw off USA in the round of 16, but his hopes had been set higher than being knocked out at the time they did.

However, that didn’t bother the youngster at all, as he followed up a respectable World Cup campaign with an even more incredible season with Wolfsburg, as they defied the odds and finished 2nd in the Bundesliga behind only Bayern Munich – and guess who was at the heart of it all.

Deployed in a central attacking position with the freedom roam by Dieter Hecking, he was able to cause havoc in opposition defences, and was undoubtedly  the stand out performer in an historic season for the Wolves, who also achieved German Cup success, as De Bruyne scored in a 3-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the final.

Those performances then earned him yet another move, which would see him return to England in the form of a Manchester City player for around £55 million.

As you would expect there was immediate hype around him in the UK. He was the Premier League’s next big thing. And despite having all this pressure, he has excelled in his first season with City.

After scoring on his full debut, he has been a pivotal part of Manchester City’s season, and his recent injury has also coincided with a drop in form of a side who appear to be missing a world class player – and who wouldn’t.

And although signs are showing that De Bruyne already is one of the world’s best, the future offers the possibility of even more success.

Firstly, there is the small matter of the European championships coming up this summer, where Belgium are among the favourites to win the tournament. The squad looks like it could be finally reaching its potential, and depending on his form, the competition could be pivotal to De Bruyne’s career.

Secondly, Pep Guardiola is set to take over the reigns in Manchester next season, and it could be the start of a new era for the club. How will he use De Bruyne? Can he win the title? Will they do well in the Champions League? It looks like the story of the Premier League’s next gem has only just begun…