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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 09:59 GMT
Legendary Dutch boss Michels dies
Rinus Michels
Michels at the 1988 European Championships in West Germany
Legendary Dutch coach Rinus Michels, the man credited with developing "total football", has died aged 77.

Referred to in the Netherlands as "the General", Michels led the Dutch at the 1974 World Cup - when they reached the final only to lose 2-1 to Germany.

However, he guided his side to the 1988 European Championship title with a 2-0 win over the Soviet Union in the final.

Michels played for Ajax and coached the side to four national titles between 1965-71 and a European Cup in 1971.

His 1970s Dutch team was built around Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens and introduced the concept of "total football" to the world.

The strategy was to foster team coherence and individual imagination - with all players possessing the skills to play in any part of the pitch.

Cruyff was the on-field organiser of a team whose players rotated in and out of defence at will and was encouraged to play creative attacking football.

Cruyff said: "Both as a player and as a trainer there is nobody who taught me as much as him. I will miss Rinus Michels.

"I always greatly admired his leadership."

Current national trainer Marco van Basten, who scored in the 1988 European Championship final, described Michels as "the father of Dutch football".,

Michels' philosophy of 'total football' caught the imagination of everyone
Sven-Goran Eriksson

"It is an enormous loss for the football world," he added.

His sentiments were echoed by England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who described Michels as "a legend".

"I met him many times. He was a great man," said Eriksson.

"There is no one in the game who does not think of him as one of the greatest coaches there has been."

Tottenham director of football Frank Arnesen also paid tribute to the man he always called "Mr Michels"

Denmark international Arnesen was an integral part of Michel's Ajax side, and he said: "I never tried to call him Rinus, it was always Mr Michels.

"I signed my first professional contract with him back in 1975 and had so much respect for him, not just as a man, but as a human being."

Michels had recently undergone heart surgery and Dutch football federation (KNVB) spokesman Frank Huizinga said: "He was one of the best coaches we had in history."

The no-nonsense coach also enjoyed spells at Barcelona, where he won the Spanish title in 1974, FC Cologne and Bayer Leverkusen.

Michels, who was named coach of the century by world football's governing body Fifa in 1999, also won five caps for the Netherlands as a bruising centre forward.

Dutch sports minister Clemence Ross-van Dorp said: "He was the man who, together with Cruyff, made Dutch football big."

Obituary: BBC Sport's Chris Mitchell on Rinus Michels

Interview: Former Holland star Arnold Muhren

Interview: Middlesbrough's Boudewijn Zenden

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