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Cruyff ends coaching career with Catalonia

Photo: Peter Dejong/AP

Johan Cruyff won the Ballon d'Or in 1971, 1973 and 1974.

Dutch great Johan Cruyff concluded his coaching career on Wednesday after overseeing Catalonia's 1-1 draw with Nigeria in a friendly.

The former player and coach for both Barcelona and Ajax said after the match that "unless something strange happens, I don't see myself coaching again.''

"I always have too many things to do, so don't worry about me getting bored,'' he said.

The 65-year-old Cruyff is revered in the northeastern region of Spain for his years at Barcelona. He played for Barcelona from 1973-78 and then returned as coach from 1988-96, guiding the group known as the "Dream Team'' to Barcelona's first European Cup title and establishing the same attractive passing style it still deploys to such great success today.

Cruyff said it was a "point of pride'' to be considered the architect of Barcelona's style of play that has been carried on by coaches Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova.

In November, Cruyff announced he was leaving the post with Catalonia because he had turned 65, saying he had reached "retirement age.'' He took the position in 2009 after a 13-year hiatus from coaching.

Cruyff, who won the Ballon d'Or three times as a player, said that it had been an "honor'' to coach Catalonia's regional selection. Catalonia didn't lose any of its four games under his command.

Nigeria used the match to prepare for its upcoming participation in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Former Deportivo La Coruna midfielder Sergio Gonzalez gave Catalonia the lead in the fourth minute at Espanyol's Cornella-El Prat stadium when he converted a penalty after a Nigeria player had handled the ball in the area.

Catalonia, with a heavy representation of Barcelona players, controlled the match until Portland Timbers forward Bright Dike equalized for Nigeria in its first shot on goal 10 minutes into the second half.

The Africa Cup of Nations will be hosted by South Africa and runs from Jan. 19 to Feb. 10. Nigeria is in a group with titleholder Zambia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.

Catalonia and other regions of Spain like the Basque Country play friendlies but do not compete in official international competitions.

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