Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said “everything stopped” when he got the call to inform him of Johan Cruyff’s death last month.
Koeman was on holiday in the south of France when he received the call that Cruyff, who coached him at Ajax before bringing him to Barcelona, had died following a battle with cancer.
“I was sitting on a terrace in Nice when the call came,” he told Voetbal International.
“Then everything stopped. Johan’s death … It seemed impossible.”
Koeman came through at Ajax under the guidance of Cruyff before moving to PSV.
He would be reunited with Cruyff at Barcelona, where he would become a key player under the Dutch great, winning four consecutive La Liga titles and one Copa del Rey.
“Johan is a threat that walks through my life,” Koeman reflected.
“I went to the commemoration last week in Barcelona even though it did not suit me.
“I flew from Nice to Amsterdam to Southampton, then had 20 minutes to pack some stuff, because I flew back to Amsterdam.
“The next morning when I’m with Sjaak Swart [we] went to the memorial.”
But it was worth the effort to be in Barcelona for the El Clasico as a packed Camp Nou paid tribute to their former player and coach.
“It was beautiful, I am glad I was there,” said Koeman.
“That’s how much respect and love there is for Johan.
“Everything was right, everyone was there and if you so look around you, you realise again what Johan meant.
“He was, is and remains the greatest .If Cruyff had played at this time, he would have still been the best.”