Johan Cruijff was honoured on Sunday by UEFA, the European football association. The former top player received the ‘President’s Award’ from chairman Michel Platini before the Ajax – sc Heerenveen match. This prize is for former players who have, according to the association, made a significant contribution to the development of football.
Among others, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Sir Bobby Charlton, Eusébio, Raymond Kopa, Gianni Rivera en Franz Beckenbauer, have all won the award before the former Ajax player.
“It’s a wonderful honour to receive this prize and to be in such illustrious company”, said Cruijff on Thursday, on UEFA’s website. “I would like to share this distinction with the people who work with me, who love football and who are willing to invest their time and energy into improving the sport.”
Prior to kick-off of Ajax – sc Heerenveen, Johan Cruijff and marketing director Edwin van der Sar came down from the royal lodge where the eternal number 14 took to the field to hear words of thanks from Van der Sar, and was loudly serenaded by the Ajax fans. Cruijff was visibly moved. “Thank you”, said Cruijff emotionally, after receiving congratulations from Van der Sar and the crowd. “It all started here, and hopefully it won’t end here. This is a nice prize on the way. Just like we’re on our way with our work at Ajax. I’m proud to receive this prize, proud that this is happening here, together with you all.”