The International Tennis Federation (ITF) have praised the contribution to wheelchair tennis of late Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruyff after he lost his long battle with cancer aged 68.
Cruyff, the winner of FIFA’s coveted Ballon d’Or in 1971, 1973 and 1974, was part of an Ajax team that lifted the European Cup on three consecutive occasions.
He also played for Spanish giants Barcelona but passed away last Friday (March 24).
He set up a foundation in his name in 1997 which has helped thousands of children, including those who are disabled, get active through sport.
The Dutchman, who has a piece of skill named after him - known as the “Cruyff turn” - was a member of The Netherlands team beaten in the 1974 World Cup final 2-1 by Germany and turned to management after retiring in 1984.
He then went on to establish the Johan Cruyff Foundation, which had a strong partnership with wheelchair tennis and gives children the opportunity to play a range of sports.
The charity also pledged assistance to the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund in a bid to continue the growth of the sport.
The 2016 Cruyff Foundation Wheelchair Tennis Junior Masters took place in Tarbes, France from January 28 to 31.
“The ITF was saddened to hear the news that Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff has died,” an ITF statement read.
“Through his Foundation, Cruyff was a strong advocate of disability sport.
“The Cruyff Foundation has supported the ITF Junior Wheelchair Tennis programmes and the Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund over a number of years.
“The Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters has been the launch pad for several of the world’s top players and Cruyff Foundation International and National Junior Camps have given numerous juniors the opportunity to take up the sport.
“The ITF Wheelchair Tennis Development Fund has received significant investment from the Cruyff Foundation and contributed heavily to the delivery of projects in more than 40 developing countries.”
Further tributes will be made to Cruyff when The Netherlands take on England in a friendly match tomorrow night at Wembley Stadium in London.