opinions | 2016-03-25
Cruyff's winning mentality changed Barcelona and Catalonia
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont wrote a heartfelt homage to Johan Cruyff, who left an eternal mark in the country's history
This article is a homage by the Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, originally published by the Catalan newspaper Diari Ara, you can read it in Catalan here.
Johan Cruyff is gone, but we will continue to see his football on display every week and will be enjoying it for years to come. He created Barça’s current system of play, the one which turned it into a winning team. Cruyff put an end to historical urgencies, a victim-mentality, and a conformism that had historically characterized the club. First as a player, and then, especially, as a coach, he put Barcelona on the world map with the Dream team.
Cruyff’s contribution, however, goes much farther than football. His personality became the reference point for the country of Catalonia, going above and beyond the differences in the colors of the shirts or sporting alliances. By changing Barça, he also contributed to change the way of being of Catalans. His greatest virtue was opening our eyes and showing us that we could win, not just in a sporting sense, but as a country as well. His winning mentality spread to Catalan society. But at the same time he demonstrated that this could only be achieved through hard work, a tenacious work ethic, and the audacity to believe. Success does not come freely or without sacrifices. It is the result of labor. And he represented all of this with a playful touch, with phrases like “go out, play and enjoy yourselves”, so healthy in many regards. His sporting and personal values are widely shared by a Catalan society that today also has its gaze set on ambitious horizons.
His time as the manager of the Catalan national team, a gesture which honors him even further, ended up showing his commitment to the country that welcomed him. The example Cruyff set serves to expose those that don’t want things to change, those who say there is nothing you can do, those who still believe in the slogan (roughly) “those who let days pass them by, are pushed by the weight of years”. It exposes those who would agree to a draw before the players reach the grass of the pitch and before the initial whistle. Now we always go out to win, loyal to his legacy. And this is worthy of following in all facets of life. He overcame a heart-attack, swapped cigarettes for xupa-xups, and fought to the last day against cancer. Cruyff has died, but he has not lost, because his image will always be associated with victory.
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TRANSLATED BY: Aldo Sainati
Aldo Sainati is a trilingual football writer and experienced coach based in Barcelona.