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On 24 March 2016, the world was stunned by the news of Johan Cruyff’s death. From the moment that his family announced the loss, expressions of grief started coming in from every corner of the planet. Barça was bidding a final farewell to one of the most important figures in its history, and the football world was losing one of the greatest players and managers of all time. The Flying Dutchman, as he was known in his playing days in Catalonia, changed the way we see football.
One year later, FC Barcelona and the sports world in general are still grieving over the parting of someone who played such a central role in shaping the modern game. Cruyff was honoured from March 24 not just at Barça, but also at Ajax, in Holland and throughout the world. FC Barcelona set up a memorial at Camp Nou and the space remained opened for four days, when an astonishing 60,525 fans came to pay their last respects.
These included all the living Barça presidents (Agustí Montal, Raimon Carrasco, José Luis Núñez, Joan Gaspart, Enric Reyna, Joan Laporta, Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu). The first of those, Montal, passed away just a few days ago and will also be given a final farewell at the stadium.
The Camp Nou was also able to pay tribute to the late, great Cruyff in the way that man himself would have most wanted – on the pitch. It so happens that just a few days later, the stadium hosted El Clásico against Real Madrid and the players came onto the field wearing commemorative shirts and a huge mosaic in the stands spelled out the words 'Gracies Johan'. The terraces were full of banners with messages to thank him for everything that he had done for the club.
Cruyff shone as a player at Barça between 1973 and 1978, and then returned to manage his famous Dream Team for eight years, when the club truly started to employ a style of football that it has kept alive through to the present. Under Cruyff, Barça won four consecutive Liga titles and its first ever European Cup.
To mark the first anniversary of his death, on Saturday FC Barcelona will be announcing its plans to permanently honour the memory of Johan Cruyff. The event was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was postponed due to the death of former president Agustí Montal, the very man who brought Cruyff to Barça in 1973. Instead, it shall be on Saturday at 11.00am CET in the Auditori 1899 that his son Jordi Cruyff, current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and first vice-president Jordi Cardoner shall be making the presentation.
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