SAO PAULO: Brazilian World Cup winner and star forward Romario joined the outpouring of tributes on Friday to late Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, his manager at Barcelona at the height of his career.
“We woke up to the sad news of the death of my Dutch friend Johan Cruyff,” Romario, 50, wrote on Facebook.
“He was, without a doubt, the best coach I ever had. His lessons will be eternal in my life.”
Cruyff saw Romario, who is today a senator in Brazil, through his golden era as a player, when he led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup and was named the best player of the tournament.
The Dutch master managed Barcelona for eight years, winning four back-to-back La Liga titles and the club’s first European Cup, with a “Dream Team” that featured Romario from 1993 to 1995.
The strong-willed manager was known for occasional standoffs with Romario, who then had a reputation as a high-flying party animal.
Cruyff once told the young player he would only grant his request to stay two extra days in Rio de Janeiro for carnival if he scored two goals the next day.
The forward recalled to sports daily L’Equipe that he promptly racked up his double, asking permission to leave right away because his plane left in an hour.
“I often say that he challenged me a lot as a player and I always sought to win,” Romario wrote Thursday.
“He was also a very fair person. I remember it was hard for me to be far from home. At the time, I was the only non-European player at Barcelona. So he would give me a few extra days off so I could rest at home.”
Considered one of the all-time greats, Cruyff died of lung cancer Friday at age 68.