A little more than 24 hours after his death at the age of 68 the Amsterdam Arena was packed with tributes to the man who scored 33 goals in 48 international appearances for Holland.
Mascots from both sides took to the pitch wearing Oranje shirts with Cruyff’s No 14 on the front, while there were numerous banners and tributes to the man who managed Ajax and Barcelona with the simple message, ‘Johan Bedankt’ (Thank you Johan).
The players observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Brussels this week before play began. Then the The Atlético Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann put the visitors ahead with a brilliant free-kick in the sixth minute before Olivier Giroud doubled the lead from a corner.
Play was then halted in the 14th minute for a minute’s applause from the 50,000 fans inside the stadium, where the seat in the stands where Cruyff usually sat was left empty. After the resumption Luuk de Jong and Stoke’s Ibrahim Afellay drew Holland level, only for the France captain, Blaise Matuidi, to fire a late winner.
Reports that the Amsterdam Arena could be renamed in honour of Cruyff had earlier been confirmed by the city’s deputy mayor. “The city wants it, so now we have to discuss it with the family of Johan Cruyff,” Eric van der Burg told Sky Sports News HQ.
“I will do that in a couple of days. Today is the cremation of Johan Cruyff so we are not in touch with them. But it is our wish to rename the stadium. He is the most famous Dutch football player and maybe the best player ever, so it would be a beautiful tribute.”
The proposal has been backed by the Dutch Football Association president, Michael van Praag. “I can’t wait for the moment when we rename our stadium the Johan Cruyff Arena,” he said. “It’s the best tribute we can pay him.”
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