The Cruyff Legacy Summit brings together more than 600 people at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam to pay tribute to Johan and celebrate his social legacy, in an event that was live-streamed all over the world
The Amsterdam ArenA, renamed the Johan Cruijff ArenA in 2018 in honor of Johan, once again felt all his magic in a special and memorable event that gathered more than 600 people in the stadium and was followed online from all corners of the world. It was an emotional day organized by Johan Cruyff Institute and the Cruyff Foundation, not only in memory of their founder but also to celebrate his social legacy, which remains stronger and more active than ever.
The memory of Johan Cruyff, in the year in which he would have turned 75 years old, was present on a day attended by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, the Cruyff family, important personalities from the world of sport and members of the Cruyff network.
A large shirt with Johan’s emblematic number 14 in the center of the grandstand, and an incomplete 14 made up of footballs in the center of the pitch, attracted the attention of the guests on their arrival at the stadium. It was King Willem-Alexander himself and actor Tobias Nierop, who plays Johan in ’14demusical’, who placed the last two balls in the mosaic with the help of four young volunteers. They represented the more than 400 children who earlier that day had enjoyed their Open Day, the Cruyff Foundation‘s sporting activity par excellence which, year after year, brings together hundreds of children with disabilities to share a morning of sport.
The official inauguration of the Cruyff Legacy Summit by the monarch gave way to the activity in the Johan Cruijff ArenA, an ideal setting for reflection based on the testimonies of important sports figures. Whether as contemporaries and disciples of Johan in some cases, or because of their conviction in incorporating his philosophy into their own careers as sports professionals, Arsène Wenger, Sarina Wiegman, Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard and Jordi Cruyff shared conversation and memories with David Garrido, Sky Sports journalist and presenter of the event.
Arsène Wenger, head of global football development at FIFA, revealed his total admiration for Johan as a footballer and coach, but also wanted to highlight the influence he had on his career and the extraordinary richness of the legacy he left on a social level. In an interview recorded as a result of a last-minute commitment that prevented him from attending the event in person, Arsène opened the first panel of the day on leadership, team performance and role models in the world of football, in which Sarina Wiegman, head coach of the England women’s national team and the current European champions, also had a great deal to contribute.
As a prelude to the second panel of the day, guests were able to choose between two presentations featuring Tanja Dik, CEO of the Johan Cruijff ArenA, and Paralympic athlete Marlou van Rhijn. Tanja gave a talk on sustainability from her own experience as general manager of one of the most pioneering and innovative smart stadiums in the world, where, with the collaboration and commitment of international companies, they re-imagine football and the society of the future. Meanwhile, Marlou gave an interesting presentation on inclusivity in sport.
Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard and Jordi Cruyff took to the stage in the last session of the day to discuss total athlete development. The three recalled experiences and invaluable lessons from their days with Johan and ended up agreeing that “Johan was, is and will be”, for many years, a relevant figure that marked them on a personal level and inspired them professionally to keep his legacy alive.
The contribution of these three men was the perfect culmination to an unforgettable day in which Johan Cruyff was the main and only protagonist. Johan always said ‘we can’t do it alone; we have to do it together’. This event was, once again, another great example of this.