Most of us, football fans don't really know or bother to care about La Masia de Can Planes do we...? How about De Toekomst...? Now, comparing these two places or shall I say 'institutions' is missing the whole point altogether but what's interesting is that Johann Cryuff had a hand in setting up and envisioning these two famed hallowed venues.
Admittedly, Cryuff was always one of those footballing icon that I considered too 'old school' for me to remember or even liked but one little thing that I knew of him -Cryuff's turn - proved to be more than sufficient to make him one of the truly greats that ever graced a football field.
Halfway through my reading of The Football Men by Simon Kuper (I just had to postpone reading it because of we moved out of the apartment), I was completely hooked on Cryuff's chapter (more about Kuper's book in other entries,insya-Allah ;-)) and there I was reading page after page and can only come out with one conclusion, Cryuff is a one off.
Everybody knows he's a genius, that he's a joy to watch while he was playing whether in real life or through the small screens of YouTube videos but what impressed me most about Cryuff is that he certainly has an opinion or two or three on everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Although he's quite infamous in a way that people always seem to get the quirkiest of quotes out of him but that's exactly why I said he's a one off, meaning there'll be no other footballer quite like him.
Coming back to La Masia and De Toekomst earlier on, it was Cryuff who persuaded the then FC Barcelona president, Josep Nunez to adopt the youth-centered approach because Cryuff himself was one of De Tomkoest's earliest success stories. Note the determination and persuasive nature of Cryuff in looking forward to youth's potential and nurturing them to play in a certain way from an early age.You guys can go and read a whole lot more about La Masia here and here because apparently, La Masia will be getting a new home as it says goodbye to the old one.
Though not as famous as FC Barcelona's youth set up in terms of location or facilities, AFC Ajax Amsterdam's youth academy prestige is second to none and a quick look at its list of alumnus proves to be the case. If FC Barcelona can claim Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta as their 'products', just don't forget Edgar Davids, Wesley Sneijder or Rafael Van De Vaart were also once the marquee players of AFC Ajax Amsterdam.
I remember reading about the England's FA youth set up, the Lilleshall School of Excellence once but got to know that it has been turned into a National Sports Center or something...if my memory serves me well, Michael Owen and Wesley Brown were there as apprentices at one time.
Food for thought, I've been reading around Rizal Hashim's blog and loved the nuggety behind-the-scenes stories that he shared about Malaysia's current football heroes. My take is that when you're on a first name basis with the players, plus your significant other is an insider of that closely knitted inner-circle, you ought to share a fair bit hahaha! Sekolah Sukan Bukit Jalil might not be anything close to La Masia or De Toekomst at the moment, not in our wildest dreams but as Cryuff has once proven, soon enough it might just be our turn!
*picture of Johann Cryuff nicked from FC Barcelona's official website.
Good night and ciao !