ERIK TEN HAG met football legend Johan Cruyff at the age of 13 and stole the show on his TV programme.
The Manchester United manager was invited onto Cruyff’s show ‘Cruyff & co’ when he was part of the Twente academy.
Ten Hag and his fellow academy prospects were given the opportunity to delve into Cruyff’s mind and glean some valuable football lessons.
And the United boss certainly made the most of the opportunity, asking his hero: “What is the best way to develop your technique?”
Cruyff responds: “Developing your technique is really quite simple. You have to do it: train, train, train. That is the only thing that you have to do above anything else.”
It appears Ten Hag still abides by that principle today as he was responsible for several Ajax youth players becoming integral to the first-team, including the likes of Donny van de Beek and Frenkie de Jong.
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Later in the show Ten Hag shows wisdom beyond his years when discussing young players, with a display of maturity that impresses the great Cruyff.
Ten Hag says: “With youngsters, you have to be careful not to shout too much because that can break a player.
“[They might think] “Ah, football means nothing to me. I am quitting”.
“With higher level teams such as Ajax’s first team or Twente’s first team, it doesn’t matter, a trainer may say something because those lads are training more often during the week and if they keep on making the same mistakes over and over again, then I think something may very well be said about that.”
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Ten Hag was recently shown the footage and the Dutchman remarked on the influence Cruyff has had on his footballing philosophy.
The Red Devils boss said: “He took us for a training session, and everyone was taught a certain skill. Johan Cruyff would then go on to train that with us and afterwards we were all to go back to the studio to talk about it.’
“I was a big fan of him because of his way of playing. And he was the first player when I was growing up, who was at a big club abroad but above all turning Ajax into a great club. Then you always got to hear about it from my uncles, because I was only really young then.”
Cruyff has also been a huge influence on another Premier League manager, Pep Guardiola, who has replicated his methods to great success at Manchester City.
Guardiola’s possession-based, high-intensity approach has produced one of the greatest Prem sides of all time, and Ten Hag will hope he can have similar success on the other half of Manchester.