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Pep Guardiola tribute: 'I knew nothing about football until I met Johan Cruyff'

Barcelona great Pep Guardiola has paid a moving tribute to Johan Cruyff, claiming "I knew nothing about football until I met Cruyff."

The Netherlands, Ajax and Barcelona legend died on Monday in Spain after losing his battle against lung cancer.

Cruyff handed Guardiola his debut with the Blaugrana's first team in 1990 and coached him for six seasons, a spell in which Barca captured four La Liga titles as well as the European Cup.

Guardiola spoke to Catalan radio station RAC 1 and said: "It's a great loss. We will not be able to see him when we would like to, but his legacy remains.

"Those that experienced it were fortunate to be able to enjoy him directly and personally and he has left many things.

"We [former players] have all followed him in one way or another; some coaching, others being technical secretaries, other commentating... and that is only possible if someone gives you something.

Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola recounted his memories of Johan Cruyff on Friday.

"He made us understand football. His advice was very important. He advised you to use your instincts, to take decisions. He opened your eyes.

"He always said that if you follow your instincts you can never go wrong. Football is such a complicated game that you become a coach because you want to control it.

"You think you will dominate it with what you do or what you say but it's impossible to dominate it unless you are [Lionel] Messi. And Johan helped us to do so."

Barcelona hailed Cruyff for helping the club to become the greatest in the world and flags flew half-mast at Camp Nou to honour the three-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Guardiola had a lot of memories of his time with Cruyff.

"At half-time when you were playing badly, you waited for him to tell you off and to tell you that you had to put more effort and fight more.

"He would then tell you that you were playing badly because you were running a lot. He said you had to send the ball where you wanted it, not run after it. He said the opposite of things that you heard throughout your life."

The 45-year-old, who takes over at Manchester City on July 1, coached Barcelona to three La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns.

He won two Bundesliga titles in his two full seasons as Bayern Munich boss and is on course for a third this this term. He said Cruyff was like a magician.

"One day I went for dinner with my wife and my children and and we were talking about Johan," said Guardiola. "One of my children, who had never met Johan, asked me who he was.

"I explained to him that it's as though you were going to a history lesson or science or math and you can't wait for that lesson with that teacher to start because he helps you love the class. My son said 'like Merlin?' And I said Yes, like Merlin. We had Merlin, a person that helped us and was special."

Guardiola said Cruyff still has an impact on his work.

"At times I think what would Johan do?" he said. "Against Juventus when I had the rope on my neck that happened and I was able to come out of that."

Bayern came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 in extra-time earlier this month in the Champions League.

Guardiola said he will never forget Cruyff.

"He protected me when I started as a footballer," he said. "He would put me in my place. He gave me a football lesson on how to behave, how to distance myself from the media.... His legacy is infinite."

He added that it will be up to Xavi someday to carry on Cruyff's work.

"I am convinced that Xavi, [Sergio] Busquets and Andres [Iniesta] will continue with his legacy. I have told them this and they are capable of coaching in the future. I have no doubt that Xavi will coach. If he and Barcelona maintain this idea, the club culture will continue. As long as they keep working on football at the academy and follow their line of methodology, it will keep going round," he said.


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