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Newest Star at FC Barcelona Is Cruyff--the Player, Not the Coach

October 13, 1994|The Washington Post

On a team of World Cup superstars--Romario, Hristo Stoitchkov, Gheorghe Hagi and Ronald Koeman--the most talked-about player this season for Spanish League power FC Barcelona has been a thin, 20-year-old midfielder with one of international soccer's most famous names.

In the tradition of Brazilian and many Spanish players, he prefers to be called by only his first name: Jordi. But everyone in European soccer knows who he is--Jordi Cruyff, son of Dutch legend Johan Cruyff.

The elder Cruyff is a hero in the Mediterranean city, having coached Barcelona to four consecutive league titles. This season, he has had the pleasure of watching his son blossom.

A regular for the last few years on Barcelona's reserve squad, Jordi showed he was ready for the top club with six goals in two games during a preseason tour in his native Netherlands. He also scored and set up a goal in Barcelona's first regular-season victory.

The next day, one of the city's newspapers proclaimed: "Jordi saved face for his father."

"The surname has weighed heavily," Jordi told World Soccer magazine. "Especially at the beginning . . . whenever I got onto the pitch, people would say, 'Look, that's Cruyff's son, the teacher's pet.' "

Jordi hears it from many directions, from Dutch fans, who think he should be playing in the Netherlands, to Spaniards who think he's playing only because of his influential father.

His emergence comes 20 years after Johan Cruyff signed to play with Barcelona and helped it to the league championship. It was 1974, the year the younger Cruyff was born.

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