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Football pioneer John Cruyff remembered

International Sports

Dutch legend Johan Cruyff rememberedDutch legend Johan Cruyff rememberedThousands of fans mourning the death of Johan Cruyff have paid their respects to the former player and coach at a temporary memorial in Barcelona's Camp Nou Stadium.


The Spanish club said that over 5,000 fans passed through the memorial by 1:30 p.m. local time on Saturday. It will remain open through Tuesday, when Barcelona's players will attend after returning from international competition.

Attendees could sign a book of condolences and file past a large photo of the Dutch great inside the stadium lobby. The photo was flanked by club and Catalonia flags and rose bouquets.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu inaugurated the memorial Saturday morning for the "maestro" who "changed our club."

"These are sad, very sad days for the world of Barcelona and also for the world of football," Bartomeu said.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Catalonia's regional president Carles Puigdemont paid their respects along with fans.

Some fans left scarves, flowers and lollipops which Cruyff ate as a manager after stopping smoking following heart surgery outside the stadium.

Bartomeu said that the book of condolences will be given to Cruyff's family.

After winning three consecutive European Cups with Ajax, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club's first European Cup in 1992.

Barcelona considers Cruyff the mastermind of its signature passing-based attack that has made it the world's dominant team for the past decade.

Bartomeu and seven former presidents wrote in a public letter that the "professional and personal footprint he left at our club is enormous."

Cruyff died Thursday of lung cancer.

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