I don’t often read autobiographies, but this Cruyff is one of my sporting heroes. Also, my brother has a copy so its easy to borrow… The book itself is brilliant; bright orange cover and each page has an orange edge to it, making the book appear orange throughout. Cruyff famously wore number 14 and he writes 14 chapters, each about a separate chapter in his life. The last chapter is clearly written as he was dying, but is mostly concerned with the future of organisations that he’s been involved with. He covers all aspects of his life, from his upbringing and father’s early death, his marriage and children, and his work with charities after playing and managing in football.
If you are a fan of football, this is a fascinating insight into the mind of one of the greats. Cruyff writes about the beginnings of Total Football with Ajax and the Dutch national team; explaining why it was so revolutionary and why it works. Later he discusses where the Dutch team and philosophy has gone wrong, and his belief that they should return to the style of training that he received as a young player. After his career took him to Barcelona he explains the affinity he felt to that city and Catalonia itself. By giving his point of view on current football in comparison with when he was playing Cruyff is able to show the ways football has changed and may change in the future. Having also played in America he is able to explain to readers the many differences between, and advantages and disadvantages of, European and North American sports business models. It is such an interesting read for these aspects that are not often discussed in European sports writing.
In the final couple of chapters Cruyff discusses his charitable work, the Cruyff Foundation especially. I was aware of this aspect of his life, but not really the extent nor the number of Cruyff Courts that had been built; there over 200 of these small football pitches all across the world. By writing about his charity work in such a passionate manner, he’s equally excited about this as he is about football, he invites the reader into every aspect of his life. As I said previously, this is worth reading for any football fan, but also anyone with an interest in how sport can help people in other aspects of their life.