Pep Guardiola has explained how he “knew nothing about football” until he met Johan Cruyff at Barcelona as he admits “I often wonder what Johan would do”.
Guardiola was one of La Masia’s first success stories as he played a key role in Cruyff’s Barca ‘Dream Team’ between 1991 and 1996, before leading the club to even more success as Coach little under two decades later, and he paid a fitting tribute to the “eternal legacy” left behind by the Dutchman.
“I knew nothing about football until I met Cruyff,” he told RAC1.
“We’ll miss having him around and we can’t go to him if we wanted to see him anymore, but his legacy is something he’s left behind.
“Those who knew him were lucky to enjoy [his presence] directly and personally, and he left us with many things.
“We’ve all followed him in some way, some Coaches and technical secretaries, others commentators, and this is only possible if this person [Cruyff] gives you something to follow.
“If we’ve decided to be Coaches, it’s because we’ve been instilled with the idea that we can dominate the game without our name being Lionel Messi. Cruyff helped us in that respect.
“One day, I went to dinner with my wife and children and we were talking about Johan.
“One of my sons didn’t know who he was, he asked me and I explained to him that he was like one of those teachers who you always wanted because he helped you to love school.
“My son replied, “like Merlin?”. He was like Merlin, and we had one. He was a special person who helped us.
“We know Barcelona are much more than Johan, but his arrival was the revolution which taught us how to do things.
“They said he had many flaws, but it’s happened to me in Germany, when you do things a little differently. He had faith in what he did.
“It’s no coincidence that [Andoni] Zubizarreta and Txiki [Begiristain] are two great sporting directors.
“He helped us understand football. His advice was important and he encouraged to follow our instincts when making decisions.
“He said we should always lead by instinct as it would never let us down.
“I often wonder what Johan would do, such as against Juventus, when I had the rope around my neck.
“He protected me when I began my career. Every day, he’d put me on the spot and give me a footballing lesson in how I should behave and stay away from the media. His legacy is eternal.”