My old boss Johan Cruyff was the greatest, says ex-West Brom star Richard Sneekes

A disciplinarian, as hard as nails but a very nice man – that's how former Albion star Richard Sneekes remembers his one-time mentor Johan Cruyff.

My old boss Johan Cruyff was the greatest, says ex-West Brom star Richard Sneekes

Try as you might, no-one would ever win in an argument with the great man. Dutchman Sneekes would know, he's had a couple of attempts.

The legend handed the former Albion hero his Ajax debut when Sneekes was just 16 – becoming the historic Dutch club's then youngest-ever player.

"I didn't think I was ready. Four weeks before that I was called-up to the first-team and I didn't want to play," the former midfielder said.

"The thought of playing under him was too daunting. He told me to go out and make it because I had the ability, but if I didn't he said that he wouldn't lose a minute's sleep over it.

"He said it how it was. He would convince you that black was white.

Sneekes is far right

"He was outspoken and wasn't afraid to upset anybody. If he misplaced a pass it was the other guy's fault. But it was never in a nasty or big-headed way.

"He was hard as nails but a very nice man."

The current Rushall Olympic boss recalled giving his Ajax academy team manager a crude signal in a game before realising that Cruyff was sat next to him.

"I was quite outspoken but I instantly regretted it and walked into the dressing room and he gave me a one-game ban," Sneekes added.

"I was sticking up for a team-mate as Cruyff's assistant was laying into him and we almost got to fighting but that was it. He dragged me in with my mum and dad and basically told me to earn my playing contract again."

Many bring up Cruyff in the 'greatest ever' debate, but Sneekes finds it tough to accept that they hold him below the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

"If you go back and look at what Maradona and Pele have left with the sport, there's nothing," he said.

"They did nothing as managers and left nothing with the game. His stamp isn't just on Dutch football and Spanish football, it's on the English game and world football.

"Johan Cruyff changed world football forever and for me he has to be the greatest. When I watched him when I was growing up, he was invincible. He basically re-invented the wheel."

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