The England manager was preparing his squad for Saturday’s match against Germany – and Tuesday’s home clash with Netherlands on Tuesday – when he heard the news.
Born: Amsterdam, 24 April 1947
Clubs: Ajax, Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, Levante, Feyenoord
International team: Netherlands
Teams managed: Ajax, Barcelona, Catalonia
Playing honours: Balon d'Or (1971, 1973, 1974)
“I’m extremely saddened by it,” he said. “I think the world of football has lost one of the true legends of the game, both as a player and as a coach.
“His achievements really were second to none, and also as a man and a person.”
Cruyff passed away in Barcelona, just five months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Hodgson added: “When I heard the news about his cancer, that was a bad day, but then I was buoyed by the news recently that he was winning the battle.
“I rather hoped that it was just going to be all an upward curve for him from then on, so it was a blow finishing training and hearing this.”
Hodgson, a keen student of the game and its history, is in no doubt over Cruyff’s position at the very pinnacle as both a coach and player.
“I was always pleased to meet him and bump into him again as I did on numerous occasions. I’m just speaking, I suppose, as a real football fan and a football lover who was really, really impressed by the football player Johan Cruyff and, as a coach, impressed yet again.
“I am happy and proud to say that I actually knew him and had chances to meet and talk with him.
“The word ‘great’ is sometimes used a little bit loosely and sometimes even flippantly these days, but there are one or two greats and one or two legends – and Johan Cruyff was one of those.”
Johan Cruyff: 1947-2016