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Football

A 13-Year-Old Erik Ten Hag Stole The Show Talking Football With Johan Cruyff, He's Always Been A Tactical Genius

Josh Lawless

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A 13-Year-Old Erik Ten Hag Stole The Show Talking Football With Johan Cruyff, He's Always Been A Tactical Genius

Erik ten Hag has thought like a coach from a young age, as a resurfaced interaction with the late Johan Cruyff shows.

Back in 1984, a year before Cruyff started his glittering managerial career with Ajax, he appeared on a TV show in the Netherlands.

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Alongside him was a number of young footballers, including a fresh-faced Ten Hag, wearing a red polo and with lots of brown hair.


Ten Hag was just 13 at the time but in the discussion, spoke with maturity beyond his years. The conversation, translated into English, involved the topic of youngsters being shouted at by coaches.

Cruyff, a three-time Ballon d'Or winner, asked, "But it happens a lot right, that a trainer yells. Or does that not happen with you guys?"

In response, Ten Hag said: "I think you should watch out that you don’t yell to the youth too much, because you can break a player like that. But on a higher level, such as the first team of Ajax, you should be able to say something about it.

"Those guys train almost every day in the week. If they keep making the same mistakes, you should be able to confront them.”

Cruyff then asked, “So that means you differentiate between youth and paid football?” - to which Ten Hag said "Yes".

The new Manchester United boss lived up that statement from 38 years ago recently when he was heard shouting "What the f**k are you doing?!" to a player from the touchline during the 3-1 friendly win over Crystal Palace.

After progressing into coaching from playing, Ten Hag was able to carry on Cruyff's 'Total Football' ideas and achieve success with Ajax, where he won three Eredivisie titles.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

He talked about meeting Cruyff all those years back in an interview with NOS Sports in April and explained why he has so many images of the Barcelona and Ajax legend.

"There's a reason I have pictures of Cruyff in my office. Winning is important but you want to win with a certain style.

“You have to win with attractive football because you play football for the people. Johan Cruyff still walks around here, you can feel his DNA."

Although it's early days, Ten Hag already appears to be implementing his philosophy at United and there's plenty of excitement from the Red Devils going into the new campaign.

Featured Image Credit: Image: NOS Sport

Topics: Erik Ten Hag, Ajax, Manchester United, Johan Cruyff

Josh Lawless
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