Cruyff smoked heavily until heart surgery in 1991 forced him to give up. He only made his battle with cancer public last year and just last month said he was ‘2-0 up’ in his match with lung cancer.
Cruyff, an innovative and stylish player and coach with Ajax and Barcelona, had been diagnosed with cancer in October.
A statement on his personal website read: “On 24 March 2016 Johan Cruyff died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard-fought battle with cancer. It’s with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
As well as helping the Netherlands to the 1974 FIFA World Cup final, he won three consecutive European Cups for Ajax between 1971 and 1973, as well as eight Eredivisie titles for the Amsterdam club, and another at Feyenoord in 1984.
With Barcelona he claimed the Liga title in 1973/74 and coached them to the 1992 European Cup, laying the foundations for their future success. Cruyff also won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in charge of both Ajax and Barcelona.