Johan Cruyff – Depression and unrequited love

Johan Cruyff Barcelona
Johan Cruyff, FC Barcelona

I have locked myself in my room. Staving off all human contact. Sure, there are good people out there, great people, but my luck lately, has been shot. All I have to look forward to is a swig of water and the four pills I take at night, which makes my brain feel like a seasick sailor marooned on an inflatable doughnut.

Today was going to be another one of those days, where I while away the hours see-sawing between a state of slumber and self-loathing, until Johan Cruyff kicked the bucket.

For fuck’s sake. Not him. I’ll have to write about him – he was one of us!



Johan Cruyff’s whole life has been a conversation with himself. People, fans, colleagues saw Johan as a self-indulgent prick first, a pretentious prick later, and finally, a genius when his methods in madness paid off dividends and changed how the game of football is seen, irreversibly.

Johan Cruyff Barcelona 3

Rolled into the back of his head now, Johan Cruyff’s eyes used to still twinkle when he waxed lyrical of the beauty of space, even though his countenance was turgid through years of cynicism and distrust. It was like watching Mark Knopfler or Simon from Simon and Garfunkel talk about music – the sound of the notes between the notes – the silences that maketh the music. You cannot unsee those pretty triangles any more, now, can you? – with or without Jaime Carragher’s magical markers.

Johan used to ramble about football, on for hours for anyone who would listen. However, having decided to leave school at the tender age of 12, he often found himself in turmoil when his overflowing ideas failed to fit the cookie-cutters of primary school vocabulary. Even as a footballer, he was always barking orders to the much-publicised displeasure of his teammates and managers. His own biographer, Nico Scheepmaker, gave up on him, stating “even when Cruyff talked nonsense, he talked interesting nonsense.” And thusly, he was labelled till his dying breath.

There was an undertow, a tepid sadness whenever you heard Cruyff talk since. Reduced to commentating for Dutch TV, one can’t help but wonder the tragedy of his continued existence – passed off as ‘senile’, as a great mind that no-longer exists. The tragedy was two-folds: one, discoursing about football, admittedly, was a curious but an invested way of self-therapy. Much like how stand-up comics see their profession, it takes up every aspect of their otherwise vacuous lives, and leaves very little for anything else. Secondly, was the fact that it was taken away from him. And that, dear reader, is more of a case for pity for us than him. His ideas whatever it could have been, is now wormfood.

Johan Cruyff Netherlands 1

I woke up in my pool of drool today, Radiohead still blaring from my overpaid speakers. Reaching out to turn it off, I found a book in the way. Investigating further, the page which was dog-eared had a heading I didn’t read. I never read headings or titles. They are presumptuous in some cases, deceptive in most- telling you to think what to think before you have had the chance to. In no little way, insulting your intelligence even before you do the writer the courtesy of spending your valuable time, pandering to his idle musings.

The passage read, ‘What will survive of us is love, Love is eternal, here rests for a time, Perhaps the dead lie happily in the well-tended plots, or perhaps they prefer the forgotten, overgrown corners. Perhaps, disillusioned, they prefer their names obliterated by time and the weather. Perhaps not. There was only the sound of the strong west wind in that place, and I wasn’t there for very long before I thought that I should leave.’

Johan Cruyff was a romantic, loved football. Unrequited, football got on with the more fashionable dames. As he did say in 1996, after he was asked to leave Barcelona – “The tooth of time has done its work.”

What chance do the romantics have?

Johan Cruyff Netherlands 2

Srijandeep Das

Srijandeep is Football Paradise's number 8. The all-action, box-to-box midfielder of football writers. He's a Sports essayist, Subkultur journalist, Electronic producer, Digital artist, Stand-up comedian. He's also (justifiably) full of himself.