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New Camp Nou should be named after Johan Cruyff - Barcelona fan group

A Barcelona fans group leader says he would like the club's soon-to-be redeveloped Camp Nou stadium to be renamed after Blaugrana legend Johan Cruyff.

Former Barca player and coach Cruyff died from cancer last week at the age of 68, leading to many tributes from past and present figures at the Catalan club, with Saturday's La Liga Clasico at home to Real Madrid set to be an emotional occasion.

Cruyff first joined Barcelona from Ajax as a player in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to their first national title in a decade.

As coach, the Dutchman led Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club's first European Cup in 1992, while he remained a strong guiding presence around the club through more recent years.

Such unique influence should be marked by the club's stadium being renamed in Cruyff's honour, according to the president of an official Barca fans group called "Pena Johan" and based in the Catalan city of Santa Coloma de Gramenet.

"Johan is the man who changed the philosophy of barcelonismo," Antonio Martinez told AS.

Nou Camp Nou
Barcelona's renovation of the Camp Nou should be completed in 2021.

"We went from celebrating Cup Winners Cups or Copas del Rey and suffering, to saying we are going to win, and we are winning. I would like the stadium to bear his name.

"I understand there will be some people who do not agree, but he is the most influential person ever in barcelonismo.

"Kids today of 24 or 25 do not even know what it is like to lose against Madrid, the [1986 European Cup] final in Seville or la Liga which we lost with [then coach] Udo Lattek [in 1981/82]. That all changed thanks to Cruyff. Johan was a genius."

Work on the €600 million expansion to Barca's Camp Nou is scheduled to be completed in 2021-22.

Club figures including president Josep Maria Bartomeu have spoken about raising upwards of €200m from the sale of partial naming rights to the redeveloped stadium -- however talks with the club's previously close commercial allies in Qatar on this and other issues appear stalled at present.

Johan Cruyff won a league title as a Barcelona player before returning to propel them to even greater heights as coach.

Barcelona held their final day of tribute to Cruyff at the stadium.

Although the stadium opened its doors on Saturday to a stream of thousands of mourning fans, Tuesday is the first day when members of the Cruyff family participated.

Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and his father were among the early visitors to pay their respects within the garland-strewn hall temporarily dedicated as a memorial chapel to Cruyff.

The club said that since Saturday more than 44,000 mourners had filed past the spot where a banner hangs saying "Thanks Johan."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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