4. Johan Cruyff
Cruyff’s exploits on the pitch tell only half the story of his influence on the game of football. It was Cruyff’s ideas on the game that changed the sport as we know it. With Rinus Michels, he invented Total Football and his legacy is still visible in the sensational Barcelona team of recent seasons and the sides of his disciples around the world, most notably Pep Guardiola.
As a player, Cruyff led Ajax to eight league titles and three European Cups in two spells with his hometown club. He briefly retired at 31-years-old but came back to play in the NASL and returned to Ajax – duly delivering a league and cup Double. Irked by the Amsterdammers’ decision not to extend his contract, Cruyff signed for Feyenoord and won the Double there, too.
Career highlight: That turn, at the 1974 World Cup against Sweden.