Cruyff joined the Ajax youth system on his tenth birthday.
Cruyff and his friends would frequent a "playground" in their neighbourhood and Ajax youth coach Jany van der Veen, who lived close by, noticed Cruyff's talent and decided to offer him a place at Ajax without a formal trial.
Cruyff, encouraged by his influential football-loving father and his close proximity in Akkerstraat to the De Meer Stadium, played football with his schoolmates and older brother, Henny, whenever he could, and idolised the prolific Dutch dribbler, Faas Wilkes. His father's death had a major impact on his mentality.
As Cruyff recalled, in celebration of his 50th birthday, “My father died when I was just 12 and he was 45.
Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff was born on 25 April 1947 in Amsterdam, on a street five minutes away from Ajax's stadium, his first football club.
Johan was the second son of Hermanus Cornelis Cruijff and Petronella Bernarda Draaijer, from a humble, working-class background in east Amsterdam.
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From that day the feeling crept stronger over me that I would die at the same age and, when I had serious heart problems when I reached 45, I thought: 'This is it.' Only medical science, which was not available to help my father, kept me alive.” His mother began working at Ajax as a cleaner, deciding that she could no longer carry on at the grocer without her husband, and in the future, this made Cruyff near-obsessed with financial security but also gave him an appreciation for player aids.
His mother soon met her second husband, Henk Angel, a field hand at Ajax who proved a key influence in Cruyff's life.
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