Anfield made Cruyff ‘fall in love with Liverpool and English football’

Date published: Tuesday 8th November 2016 11:10 - Rob Conlon

Johan Cruyff: Legend in action for Ajax

Johan Cruyff was left to regret never playing in English football after facing Liverpool at Anfield as a teenager with Ajax.

Ajax faced Bill Shankly’s Liverpool in the second round of 1966-67 European Cup, with the Dutch side recording a famous 5-1 victory in the first leg.

“In a technical sense the English champions were blown away.” Cruyff wrote in his posthumously-released autobiography My Turn.

In the return leg, Shankly boldly predicted Liverpool would overturn the deficit and win 7-0, only for Cruyff to score twice in a 2-2 draw, a game which made a huge impression on the 19-year-old.

“I stood on the pitch at Anfield with goosebumps, because of the atmosphere,” Cruyff, who passed away aged 68 earlier this year, added.

“My happiness at our progress was matched only be the impression Anfield had left on me; from that evening English football had captured my heart. I had never seen anything like this – the passion for the game, and how much the fans wanted their team to win, and it made me think that one day I would like to play in England.

“Unfortunately that dream didn’t come to pass, because in those days borders were still closed to foreign players. Even today I still think that was a terrible shame.”

Related Articles