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Johan Cruijff

Home Childhood Playing for Ajax Leaving His Roots



Johan Cruijff was born on April 25, 1947.  He grew up in a small town in the Netherlands.  The town in which he lived was not even half a kilometer from Ajax Stadium, so he was destined to play there.  His father owned a grocery store and his mother also worked in the store.  Johan always loved soccer.  He would always be in the streets playing.  His friends called him Jopie and this was a nickname because of the time he wore out two pairs of shoes in two weeks from playing so much soccer.  Johan did not do well in school, in fact, the teachers told him to stop playing so much soccer so that he could pay more attention to his school work.  He ignored this, and when he was 10, he received a letter that he had been chosen to play with the Ajax junior team.  In 1959, Johan's father died and he was not able to play soccer as often as he used to.  He continued to play and balance his new responsibilities at home and soon he was playing with boys of 18 through 20 while he was only 14 years old.  His skill still overwhelmed them.  He was a shoeshine boy for the number one Ajax team but at 16, his whole world changed.  He began to play with the men who's shoes he had been shining. 


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