Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff was born on 25 April 1947 in Amsterdam, on a street five minutes away from Ajax's stadium, his first football club.
He made his first team debut on 15 November 1964 in the Eredivisie, against GVAV, scoring the only goal for Ajax in a 3–1 defeat. That year, Ajax finished in their lowest position since the establishment of professional football, in 13th.
Cruyff really started to make an impression in the 1965–66 season and established himself as a regular first team player after scoring two goals against DWS in the Olympic stadium on 24 October 1965 in a 2–0 victory.
On 7 September 1966, he made his official debut for the Netherlands in the UEFA Euro 1968 qualifier against Hungary, scoring in the 2–2 draw.
Cruyff and Danny Coster getting married on 2 December 1968
On 2 June 1971, in London, Ajax won the European Cup by defeating Panathinaikos 2–0. He signed a seven-year contract at Ajax. At the end of the season, he was named the Dutch and European Footballer of the Year for 1971.
In 1972, Ajax won a second European Cup, beating Inter Milan 2–0 in the final, with Cruyff scoring both goals.
Ajax won the Intercontinental Cup, beating Argentina's Independiente 1–1 in the first game followed by 3–0.
The first leg was held on 6 September 1972 at La Doble Visera, home of Independiente, and ended in a 1–1 draw, with goals from Johan Cruyff and Francisco Sá. The return leg was held 22 days later on 28 September 1972 at the Olympic Stadium, which was won by Ajax 3–0.
In January 1973, they won the European Super Cup by beating Rangers 3–1 away and 3–2 in Amsterdam.
The first leg was played on 16 January 1973 and the second on 24 January 1973.
The 1972–73 season was concluded with another league championship victory and a third successive European Cup with a 1–0 win over Juventus in the final
In mid-1973, Cruyff was sold to Barcelona for 6 million guilders (approx. US$2 million, c. 1973) in a world record transfer fee.
On 19 August 1973, he played his last match for Ajax where they defeated FC Amsterdam 6–1, the second match of the 1973–74 season.
In 1974 Cruyff was crowned European Footballer of the Year.
Cruyff led the Netherlands to a runners-up medal to West Germany in the 1974 World Cup and was named player of the tournament.
Cruyff retired from international football in October 1977, having helped the national team qualify for the upcoming World Cup.
At the age of 32, Cruyff signed a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Aztecs of the North American Soccer League (NASL).
After his spell in the U.S. and a short-lived stay in Spain, Cruyff returned to play in his homeland, rejoining Ajax on 30 November 1980 as "technical advisor" to trainer Leo Beenhakker, Ajax being eighth in the league table at the time after 13 games played. After 34 games, however, Ajax finished the 1980–81 season in second.
In March 1981, Cruyff took the field for the first time for Levante. Injuries and disagreements with the administration of the club, however, blighted his spell in the Segunda División, and he only made ten appearances, scoring two goals. Having failed to secure promotion to the first division, a contract with Levante fell through.
In December 1981, Cruyff signed a contract extension with Ajax.
At the end of the 1982–83 season, Ajax decided not to offer Cruyff a new contract. This angered Cruyff, who responded by signing for Ajax's archrivals Feyenoord.
He ended his Eredivisie playing career on 13 May 1984 with a goal against PEC Zwolle.
After retiring from playing, Cruyff followed in the footsteps of his mentor Rinus Michels, coaching a young Ajax side to victory in the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1987 (1–0). In May and June 1985, Cruyff returned to Ajax again. In the 1985–86 season, the league title was lost to Jan Reker's PSV, despite Ajax having a goal difference of +85 (120 goals for, 35 goals against).
After having appeared for the club as a player, Cruyff returned to Barcelona for the 1988–89 season, this time to take up his new role as coach of the first team.
The 1992 European Cup Final was a football match held on 20 May 1992 at Wembley Stadium, London, between Sampdoria of Italy and Barcelona of Spain. Barcelona won the game 1–0 after extra time, thanks to a Ronald Koeman free kick, to record their first triumph in the competition. It was the first to have a group stage involving the eight second-round winners split into two groups, and the winner of each one met in the final. In doing so, they became the second Spanish club to win the tournament and the 19th overall.
On 20 February 2008, in the wake of a major research on the ten-year-mismanagement, it was announced that Cruyff would be the new technical director at his boyhood club Ajax, his fourth stint with the Amsterdam club.
In September 2009, Cruyff and Ruud Gullit were unveiled as ambassadors for the Belgium–Netherlands joint bid for the World Cup finals in 2018 or 2022 at the official launch in Eindhoven.
On 2 November 2009, Cruyff was named as manager of the Catalonia national team. It was his first managing job for 13 years.
On 22 December 2009, they played a friendly game against Argentina, which ended in a Catalonia win, 4–2 at Camp Nou.
On 26 March 2010, Cruyff was named honorary president of Barcelona in recognition of his contributions to the club as both a player and manager.
In July 2010, however, he was stripped of this title by new president Sandro Rosell.
On 28 December 2010, Catalonia played a friendly against Honduras winning 4–0 at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys.
On 11 February 2011, Cruyff returned to Ajax on an advisory basis after agreeing to become a member of one of three "sounding board groups".
After presenting his plans to reform the club, in particular to rejuvenate the youth academy, the Ajax board of advisors and the CEO resigned on 30 March 2011.
On 6 June 2011, he was appointed to the new Ajax board of advisors to implent his reform plans.
On 30 December 2011, Catalonia played Tunisia in a goalless draw at the Lluís Companys.
Cruyff became a technical advisor for Mexican club Guadalajara in February 2012.
Due to the ongoing quarrel within the advisory board, Cruyff resigned on 10 April 2012, with Ajax stating that Cruyff will "remain involved with the implementation of his football vision within the club".
Although signed to a three-year contract, Cruyff's contract was terminated December 2012 after just nine months with the club. Guadalajara said that other members of the team's coaching staff would likely not be terminated.
In their last game under Cruyff, on 2 January 2013, Catalonia drew with Nigeria at the Cornellà-El Prat, 1–1.
On the morning of 24 March 2016, in a clinic in Barcelona, Cruyff died at the age of 68, surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren.