Johan Cruyff defended Lionel Messi’s penalty pass by pointing out ‘football is fun’ and ‘the Press said it was genius when I did it…’
Messi was praised in some quarters and criticised in others for laying off from 12 yards for Luis Suarez to score against Celta Vigo, echoing a trick pulled off most famously by Cruyff and Jesper Olsen in 1982.
“Football is to have fun and Messi makes it fun for all of us,” Sport reports the iconic Dutchman as saying.
“I was very happy [when seeing the penalty] because I share ideas with players who dare to do this kind of thing.”
Cruyff and Olsen were the most famous exponents of the penalty pass but not the first, though he says he had no idea Rik Coppens had done likewise in 1957.
“I was 10-years-old and there was no TV in my house. I didn’t know what that device was until I was older,” Cruyff pointed out.
“The idea was born in a training session, talking to Jesper. He’s a southpaw, and lefties are always ready for this kind of thing.
“At first he told me I was crazy but later he liked it and said he’d do it.
“The referee after we did it asked what we had done, is it valid? I said yes, the ball moved forward, it’s not offside. He gave it.
“The Press at the time praised it. They looked at it as genius. And that’s what it has been since, so I don’t understand that there is controversy with what we saw on Sunday.
“Football is for fun, not wars and provocation.”
Cruyff, who is fighting lung cancer, also praised the current Barca side, not just the front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar, but the team as a whole.
“Barca is a team that I love. I really enjoy the three up front, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Claudio Bravo. It’s a beast of a team,” he remarked.
“Celta are a great team, with identity. They maintained their philosophy until the end against Barca at Camp Nou. That’s to be applauded. And they had chances at 2-1.”