Barcelona fans will flock to the cavernous Camp Nou stadium today to pay their final respects to football legend Johan Cruyff, the man who engineered some of the club’s greatest triumphs.
Cruyff, 68, died on Thursday after a battle with lung cancer. The Spanish giants said a memorial space at the famous ground will open to the public from 0900GMT until 1800GMT where fans can leave messages to their former star and coach.
Workers were building the installation on Friday, with a sign bearing the words ‘Thank you, Johan’ on the front of a tribune bearing a photo of the Dutchman.
Fans as well as tourists had already placed tributes at the entrance to the ground on Friday, including roses and lollipops.
Cruyff often patrolled the touchline sucking on a lollipop which became his prop after he stopped smoking cigarettes.
On Friday night, the Netherlands’ international against France in Amsterdam was halted in the 14th minute as a mark of respect.
A huge portrait banner showing Cruyff and his familiar Dutch orange number 14 shirt was hauled across one end of the ArenA stadium in his home city as fans and players applauded.
A seat covered with flowers and a number 14 shirt was left empty in the VIP stand at a game which saw the Dutch slip to a 3-2 defeat against the hosts of the Euro 2016 tournament this summer.
It was the first time that an international has been halted for such a gesture.
“It was special,” said France coach Didier Deschamps. “A great man like Johan Cruyff deserved such a tribute and the stadium responded to him.”
In Cruyff’s childhood home area in the Amsterdam working class Betondorp (Concrete Town) neighbourhood, fans laid hundreds of flowers and other tributes.
“He was a god. He was football and he was the Netherlands,” a teary Peter Heysteeg, 52, told AFP. Revolutionised football - Leading football figures also highlighted the importance of Cruyff’s impact.
“I knew nothing about football before knowing Cruyff,”
said Pepe Guardiola, the Bayern Munich coach who played under Cruyff at Barcelona and later became its most successful coach.