Football star turns academic

January 15, 1999

Professional footballers tend to open a restaurant when their playing career comes to an end, or simply drift into unproductive obscurity.

But the former Dutch star Johan Cruyff is taking a different path, which he hopes will help tomorrow's sportsmen and women to avoid that fate. He plans to set up his own university in the Netherlands.

Cruyff, now aged 51, played for Ajax Amsterdam and later for Barcelona, where he also became coach.

In his new venture he plans to assist sportsmen and women develop the necessary skills to help them after they retire from sport, usually around the age of 30. Speaking to a Dutch newspaper, Cruyff said: "Many sports people fall into a black hole after an active career. I was lucky enough to be able to remain involved in sport after the age of 32. We want to give as many people as possible a second chance."

If the outcome of talks with several Dutch universities and colleges is successful, hundreds of young people will be able to enrol at the Johan Cruyff University this autumn. The idea is to set up a four-year MBA course at different colleges throughout the Netherlands.

Instead of being forced to make a choice between sport and education at a crucial stage in their careers, young semi-professional sports people will now be able to combine both.

Subjects on offer will all be related to the sports industry: English, sports marketing, business management, event consultancy and sports journalism.

As a wealthy and well-respected sportsman, business man and football commentator, Cruyff is aware of his own marketability. "The fact is I am a product, and I know how to deal with that. I want to use that knowledge for the good of sport. It has done so much for me. It is high time I gave something back."

It is as yet unclear what role Johan Cruyff will play in his university, although his personal adviser believes it likely that he will retain an advisory role rather than actively give courses.

The Times HigherJjanuary 15J1999international news 11 Use yer 'ed: former Dutch soccer star Johan Cruyff plans to set up his own university

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