The History of Cruyff

Designed by legendary player Johan Cruyff, the Cruyff brand is the originator of football luxury, representing a fusion between sport and fashion. Sleek and stylish yet comfortable, the shoes were a real innovation in the world of sportswear at the time.

From legendary football player to successful coach and respected fashion designer, here's the story of Johan Cruyff and the Cruyff brand.

1947 - 1964 | Early Life of a Football Legend

Johan Cruyff wearing the Barcelona shirt

Johan Cruyff wearing the Barcelona shirt

In 1947, Johan Cruyff was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. As a boy, his football skills showed early promise and his mother was able to convince Ajax to admit him to the youth development system aged 10.

Despite a personal setback aged 12 when his father died from a heart attack, Cruyff continued to develop his skills and was aided by coaching legend Rinus Michels' exercise program.

In 1964 aged 17, he made his team debut in Eredivisie against Gvav. Although his team weren't to triumph that day, Cruyff gave spectators a hint of the greatness that was to come by scoring the only goal for his side.

Johan Cruyff captaining the Dutch National team

Johan Cruyff captaining the Dutch National team

1966 - 1974 | Triumphant Beginnings

From 1966 to 1973, Ajax dominated domestically, winning the league title an impressive seven times. Cruyff was a mainstay of the team throughout this successful period, and became known for his versatility on the pitch. His ability to play in different positions was a central aspect of Michels ''Total Football' movement, highlighting the extent to which he was already shaping the footballing world.

Cruyff quickly shot to worldwide fame by winning three European Cups in a row in the early 70s, as well as three Ballon D'Ors (European Player of the Year awards). He fell just short of the 200-goal mark during his first spell in Amsterdam, a great achievement which resulted in him being signed by Barcelona in 1973 for a record £922,000 fee.

Johan Cruyff playing for Barcelona

Johan Cruyff playing for Barcelona

1974 – 1978 | Beginnings of International Career

Cruyff quickly won over the fans in Catalonia, after his assertion that he chose Barca over Real Madrid because he could not play for a team associated with Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

His time at Barca was an immediate success, as he helped to deliver the league title in his first season and was instrumental in a 5-0 annihilation of fierce rivals Real at the Bernabeu.

Despite the fact that his only other trophy with Barcelona was the 1978 Spanish Cup, Cruyff was remembered as a highly influential player, who turned the club's season around in 1973-74, as well as scoring a stunning goal against Atletico Madrid, using his heel with the ball at neck height. Following a long stint at Barca, he moved regularly, playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs, the Washington Diplomats and Levante.

Johan Cruyff signing autographs

Johan Cruyff signing autographs.

1974 | First Forays into Fashion

In 1974, Cruyff refused to wear the Dutch national team's shirt – instead, he decided to personalise his shirt with a Twin Tape design. This was the first time that the internationally renowned footballer had shown an active interest in clothing design, and it was to mark the beginning of a lifelong relationship with fashion.

1970s | Birth of a Brand

It was around 1979, at the height of his fame that Cruyff first began to consider designing his own sportswear range specialising in footwear and clothing. Dissatisfied with the quality of mainstream brands, he intended to challenge the technical and luxury features of what was currently on the market.

For several years, he tried and failed to convince the big sports brands to take him seriously. At the time, this was quite an unusual ambition for a sportsman and it seemed that many people thought that he should stick to what he was best at – football.

However, Cruyff persevered and eventually collaborated with his friend, Italian designer Emilio Lazzarini. Using his sporting knowledge, he set out to design a technical shoe, which balanced functionality with elegance.

The shoes were supple and comfortable, with the special lines around the sole not only being functional but also stylish – this was a new combination that no one had ever manufactured before.

Showing of the European Player of the Year Award

Showing of the European Player of the Year Award

1977 | End of International Career

Overall, Cruyff's international career was relatively short-lived. He retired in 1977 aged 30, just ten years after his debut. However, despite this, he left one of the most iconic footballing careers of all time behind him, with 33 goals in 48 matches and a defining place in the 'Total Football' movement. He was also famous for his technical skills, acceleration and the move now known as the 'Cruyff turn'. He finally returned to Ajax in 1981.

Johan Cruyff wearing the Pedro shoe

Johan Cruyff wearing the Pedro shoe.

1980s – 1990s | The Cruyff Brand Grows in Popularity

Throughout the 80s and 90s Cruyff trainers grew in popularity, with many well-known footballers such as Van Basten and Vanenburg playing some of their best matches wearing the brand's soccer shoes. The indoor classic and indoor support styles were also revolutionary amongst indoor football players – these shoes were not only functional but elegant, with the thin sole giving better grip and more feeling during use.

Johan Cruyff

1985 - 1994 | Start of Coaching Career

Despite lacking any formal qualification, Cruyff took over as manager of Ajax in 1985 and quickly proved that he was not just a gifted player but also a gifted coach. He led the team to two Dutch Cups and a UEFA Cup Winner's Cup in just three years.

Subsequently, he made a triumphant return to Barcelona, resulting in one the most successful stretches in the club's history. Between 1989 and 1994, the Cruyff-led players known as the 'dream team' won four league titles, three Super Cups, a European Cup and a Copa Del Ray title.

Johan Cruyff

1996 – 2000 | Break from Football

Despite the success, the pressure to win at Barcelona had been intense. In 1991, Cruyff had undergone double heart bypass surgery, and at the end of the 1996 season he was fired by the club for failing to win any significant titles over a two year period.

Following this, Cruyff spent some time taking care of his business interests including Cruyff footwear, running the Johan Cruyff Foundation and the Johan Cruyff Institute. He also received some well-earned recognition at the end of the decade when he was voted European Player of the Century.

Talking tactics

Talking tactics

2009 | Return to Coaching

In 2009, Cruyff returned to his first love as coach of the Catalonia national team. He also became an advisor to for the Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara in February 2012.



In recent years, Cruyff has rebranded and their ranges of trainers, known as Cruyff Classics, have become extremely popular in the UK. The company has continued to grow and the shoes are now widely acknowledged by the fashion industry.

The first proponents of 'football luxury', Cruyff shoes draw their inspiration from the brand's history and traditional craftsmanship, whilst incorporating new technologies and knowledge. Traditional methods (washed projects, sport designs, premium material, leather linings) are now combined with an elegant and classic sports style.

The brand still retains the spirit of the original collaboration between Cruyff and Emilio Lazzarinni, embodying the values of elegance, comfort and style.

Watch Johan Cruyff at the 2010 Cruyff Classics launch.

Cruyff Classics at Trainerstation

The legendary status of Johan Cruyff undoubtedly gives Cruyff Classics that extra edge. The combination of luxury, comfort and football heritage has proved to be a winning formula.

Check out our range of Cruyff trainers.

Cruyff Recopa Classic range - a hugely popular lightweight style which was designed in the early 80s.

Browse our range of Cruyff Recopa Classics.

Cruyff Vanenburg range - a classic style, the Vanenburg features a slim-line design and clear branding.

View our range of Cruyff Vanenburgs.

Cruyff Vicenzo range - a must-have for any Cruyff enthusiast, the Vicenzo features iconic contrasting panelling and signature branding.

Check out our range of Cruyff Vicenzos.

Cruyff Pelota range - in the brand's 'chunkier' style, the Pelota is a Cruyff classic with a more low-key vibe.

View our range of Cruyff Pelota.

Cruyff Integrale range - sleek, stylish and lightweight, the Integrale is a classic Cruyff design.

Browse our range of Cruyff Integrale.