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Fans pay homage to Johan Cruyff

Fans pay homage to Johan Cruyff
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The Netherlands’ international against France was halted in the 14th minute to lead global tributes to Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff, one day after his death.

A huge portrait banner showing Cruyff’s back and his familiar Dutch orange number 14 shirt was hauled across one end of the ArenA stadium in his home city of Amsterdam on Friday.

Fans and players applauded the footballer and coach who died on Thursday from cancer at the age of 68. A seat covered with flowers and a number 14 shirt was left empty in the VIP stand at a game which saw the Dutch slip to a 3-2 defeat against the hosts of the Euro 2016 tournament this summer.

It was the first time that an international has been halted for such a gesture. “It was special,” said France coach Didier Deschamps. “A great man like Johan Cruyff deserved such a tribute and the stadium responded to him.”

A Dutch newspaper for whom Cruyff wrote a column said the footballer’s funeral was held Friday in Barcelona. But while his family said they had been “deeply” moved by the many accolades, they did not confirm the report. Fans flocked to the Cruyff statue in Amsterdam to leave flowers, portraits and footballs bearing his name and messages.

Dutch and French fans put their rivalries aside to pay their respects to Cruyff in bars around the stadium.

“I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff,” said Pep Guardiola, the Bayern Munich coach who played under Cruyff at Barcelona and later became its most successful coach. “He helped us to understand football ... and he encouraged you to trust your instinct, your nose. To make decisions,” Guardiola told Catalan radio station Rac1.

“He revolutionised football and, in particular, he embodied everything about Barcelona’s playing philosophy,” said Joachim Loew, coach of the German team who won the 2014 World Cup.

Pictures of Cruyff in his signature shirt covered front pages around the world. “Heaven 
has a new playmaker,” headlined the British tabloid, The Sun.

On Friday, his son, Jordi Cruyff, also a former footballer, tweeted his affection for his late father. “A husband, a father, a grandfather. We will miss you like crazy, it will be hard but I hope we will make you proud,” Jordi wrote. 
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