Reports in Spain says former Dutch international and Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff was informed last week that he has lung cancer.
Cruyff who won three successive European Cups with Ajax before going on to play for and manage Barcelona was diagnosed last Tuesday, it was reported on Spanish radio station RAC1 and Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo on Thursday morning.
The 68-year-old is said to be currently undergoing tests to try to discover the extent of the disease and his spokesman has said he will release a statement later on Thursday.
Formerly a heavy smoker, he had double heart bypass surgery in 1991 while he still in charge of Barcelona – a role he eventually left in 1996.
In his prime, Cruyff was considered one of the world’s greatest players in the world at a time when Pelé, George Best and Franz Beckenbauer could all lay claim to the title.
He was European Footballer of the Year in 1971, 1973 and 1974 and part of the mould-breaking team that won three European Cups in 1971, 1972 and 1973 – a side that provided the foundation for Holland’s Total Football revolution when their coach Rinus Michels took over the national side in 1974.
Cruyff moved to Barcelona in 1973 and won the league title the following year. That same year, 1974, Holland reached the World Cup final where they were defeated by West Germany.
Four years later Cruyff moved to the United States where he played for the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats the following year. He finished his career in the Netherlands with two more seasons with Ajax and one with Feyenoord.
Cruyff took over as manager of Ajax in 1985 but it was his return to Barcelona in 1988 that brought him success as a coach, the “Dream Team” winning four league titles, the European Cup and a Copa Del Ray and devising the swift passing possession that later became known as tiki-taka.
Since leaving Barça in 1996 he has had various minor roles in the game and acts as an adviser to Ajax, a spell notable for his successful attempt to block his fellow directors from appointing Louis van Gaal to the board by taking them to court.