Johann Cruyff, who spent one season with the North American Soccer League’s LA Aztecs in 1979, and was known as the star of perhaps the best national team never to win a World Cup in the 1970s — the Netherlands — has died at age 68.
A heavy smoker in his younger days, Cruyff lost a long battle against lung cancer.
Aztecs attendance peaked during Cruyff’s long year with the club, according to the Aztecs Wikipedia entry.
Cruyff was part of the versatile Dutch team that prompted the term total football, such was their silky teamwork, and starred for manager Rinus Michels in a starting XI that included such greats as Johan Neeskens (his son, John Neeskens, just joined LA Galaxy II) Johnny Rep and Rob Rensenbrink.
He also played a major role as a Barcelona player and coach in making the club what it is today
Tributes, reaction and video after the jump.
RIP Johan Cruyff – on every short list for greatest ever player and star "turn", quite literally.
— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) March 24, 2016
— Nigel de Jong (@NDJ_Official) March 24, 2016
Today we say farewell to a legend. Thank you for helping grow soccer in the United States. RIP, Johan Cruyff. pic.twitter.com/vXSzNAvYiD
— Sunil Gulati (@sunilgulati) March 24, 2016
Today we lost a legend.
RIP Johan Cruyff | 1947-2016 pic.twitter.com/F5jWDUE9V3
— D.C. United (@dcunited) March 24, 2016
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 24, 2016
— UEFA (@UEFA) March 24, 2016
Very sad news about the death of legend Johan Cruyff. What an amazing player, Coach, teacher and person he was:https://t.co/fwXNRlB3IO
— Jürgen Klinsmann (@J_Klinsmann) March 24, 2016
Sad to hear that Johan Cruyff has died. Football has lost a man who did more to make the beautiful game beautiful than anyone in history.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 24, 2016
Johan #Cruyff was one of the few true greats. He will always be remembered & revered as a magical Total footballer & a visionary coach. RIP.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) March 24, 2016