LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has saluted Barcelona and Dutch legend Johan Cruyff as the inspiration behind his incredible success.
Guardiola has established himself as one of the finest managers of his generation after winning a host of trophies with Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
The 45-year-old played under Cruyff when the Dutchman was in the process of becoming one of Barcelona’s most iconic coaches and Guardiola believes the lessons he learnt from that period laid the foundations for his own impressive achievements in the dug-out.
Cruyff died of lung cancer in March, but his legacy lives on in former players such as Guardiola, who have captured his purist principles in their own teams.
“I was a lucky guy, I coached City, Bayern and Barca because I met him,” Guardiola said, speaking at the London launch of the autobiography “Johan Cruyff: My Turn”.
“I thought I knew about football but when I met him, a whole new world opened in front of me.
“He taught us — not only me, but to a generation of players — to understand the game, to understand why you took that decision.
“Football is the most complicated game, it’s very open and you have to take a lot of decisions.
“His impact on people was enormous.”
Guardiola won the European Cup as a player during Cruyff’s reign, a golden period which included four successive league titles for the “dream team”.
Cruyff, of course, was also a sublimely gifted forward for Barcelona, Ajax and the Netherlands.
While Guardiola was a successful midfielder in his own right, he never hit the heights Cruyff did.
Guardiola has outstripped Cruyff as a manager however after winning the Champions League twice as Barcelona manager.
The Spaniard also won three La Liga crowns with Barca, then added three German league titles at Bayern Munich before joining City earlier this year.
Guardiola said he admired the way Cruyff could connect with his players and make them commit to his cause while also maintaining his belief football should be played in an entertaining fashion at all times.
“He wasn’t sitting during the training sessions, he was playing with us, but better than us,” Guardiola said.
“He would not tell us how to do things, he would do them. Every single training session was a masterclass.
“He had knowledge, charisma, personality. Everyone knows about football, everyone, but there’s not many people that you will follow if he tells you to. You followed him.
“He was the most courageous manager I ever met… he believed in the ‘efecto mariposa’ (butterfly effect), that a good pass at the beginning could create a wonderful thing at the end.”