Jordi “Don’t call me Johan” Cruyff was, surprisingly, a multiple Premiership title winner. It’s easy to forget this of course because, well, without trying to be cruel, it’s easy to forget him. Being the son of a world famous player and constant fixture in “greatest players of all time” lists, is never an easy burden. To his credit, Jordi didn’t go down the Callum Best route of going bald and shagging around, and attempted to carve out a career for himself as a respected player in his own right. And in this regard, he was relatively successful, however the shadow of his famous father and namesake, always loomed large above him.
But it would unfair to constantly remind you of this, so I won’t mention it any further.
Jordi began his career at Barcelona under the tutelage of then manager, world famous footballer and father Johan Cruyff. He rose through the B sides and reserves before making 40 plus appearances for the first team, including an outing in the famous 4-0 rout of Manchester United in the Champions League. He was transfered to United 2 seasons later after impressing for Holland during Euro 96, where he scored his only goal for the Netherlands against Switzerland at Villa Park. He made his debut during the 3-0 victory over Wimbledon on the opening day of the 96/97 season, a game famous in football folklore as the day David Beckham announced his arrival on the big stage with a goal from the half way line. He went on to score in his next 2 outings for the Red Devils, increasing expectation on him, as well as giving journalists up and down the land several excuses to roll out comparisons with his erstwhile relative. However unfortunately for Cruyff, knee and ankle injuries restricted much of his playing time at the club and by the time he’d regained full fitness, he was deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. He did however score a crucial last minute equalizer against Derby during United’s Treble winning year but was loaned out to Celta Vigo mid season and cruelly missed out on a share of the medals.
Returning to spain with Alaves and then Espanyol he enjoyed far more playing time but not as much success. He was involved in the epic 5-4 UEFA cup final loss to Liverpool with the former, and after their relegation, enjoyed a regular place in the side with the latter. However his old injuries resurfaced and forced him into semi retirement soon after. After spending time training with the Barcelona B team, harking back to his youthful days as a promising prospect, he ended up, quite bizarrely, as a center back for Ukrainian club Metalurh Donetsk.
In 2009 he entered management with an assistant manager/player role at Maltese side Valletta. He still plays there an also runs a fashion label, imaginatively named “Cruyff”.
Despite his injuries, and unflattering comparisons, Jordi was a very talented player. Eventually deciding to jettison the name Cruyff from his shirt all together around 1999, in favour of his middle name and current moniker, he was a tricky little player, with a spark of imagination that would have seem him rated substantially higher had his lineage not been so prominent and his injuries so frequent. Now 35 and at least following Callum Best in the baldness stakes, he continues to play in Malta and is presumably, still known simply as Jordi.