His dream is to make young people live their own dreams


  My Turn: A Life of Total Football by Johan Cruyff, Nation Books, US $26.99, Pp 336,   November 2016, ISBN 978-1568585710

Football has always been Johan Cruyff ‘s life from the beginning. His parents owned a greengrocer’s shop in Betondorp, a few hundred meters away from Ajax’s De Meer Stadium in Amsterdam, so it was inevitable. In My Turn, Johan Cruyff says his father never missed an Ajax game and, though he may not have inherited his talent from his father, he did pass on his unconditional love for the club. Cruyff writes, “In fact where my talent for football originates is a mystery. I clearly didn’t learn it from my father or grandfather, and I never saw them play themselves.”

Johan Cruyff, who played for and coached Ajax and Barcelona, writes, “Everything I have done has been done with a view to the future, concentrating on progress, which means that the past is not something that I think about too much. For me, this is completely natural. Details of the matches I have played in have been written about better by other people elsewhere; what I am interested in is the idea of football. Continually looking forward means that I can concentrate on getting better at whatever I am doing, and I only really look back in order to gauge what I can learn from mistakes. Those lessons can be taken from different points in your life, and you don’t necessarily see how connected everything is until later. So while I always move forward, I can’t always look at what’s gone before as a straight line. At the heart of what I have learned as a player is that, above all else, you need four things: good grass, clean changing rooms, players who clean their own boots and tight goal nets.”

“Everything else — skills and speed, technique and goals, will come later. This is the philosophy that defines my feeling for football and for life. I have translated that into everything I’ve done, whether that is with Total Football on the pitch, with my family or the Cruyff Foundation – it has always been about progress and never ever stopping getting better.”

“Life has taught me far more than any book. Ultimately, experience of life is knowledge. The Cruyff Foundation is one of the things that developed from everything that I’ve seen and done, and the people I’ve met. The Cruyff Foundation works with schools, sports federations, governments, businesses and other partners, and simply put its goal is to give every young person the chance to play sport and exercise every day, whatever their background or abilities.” I am very proud of its success, and I even think I have gained from it more than I have given.”

My Turn is an enchanting and inspiring story of a football icon and how he became interested in charity. Cruyff narrates how he became interested in football as a boy and how football disciplined his life. His life as a leading football player led him to found the Cruyff Foundation. The Cruyff Foundation works to give every young person the chance to play sports whatever their background or abilities. This biography will change how you look at life. Reviewed by Jonathan T. Rich