The Johan Cruyff ‘Dream Team’ won an unprecedented four straight Liga trophies in the 1990s, but may have hit their pinnacle 25 years ago today when they claimed the biggest prize in European football for the first time.
“Johan Cruyff painted the chapel,” said Josep Guardiola during his trophy-strewn spell as Barcelona boss. “Barcelona coaches since merely restore or improve it.” The seeds of the club’s modern successes were planted by the Dutch coach, whose side won an unprecedented four straight Liga titles from 1990/91 to 1993/94, and oversaw a 1992 final conquest of Sampdoria in extra time to hand Barcelona their first European Cup.
They were an amalgam of local and foreign talent – the likes of Guardiola and Albert Ferrer teaming up with Michael Laudrup and Hristo Stoichkov. Another superstar, Ronald Koeman, scored the only goal of the high-quality Wembley final against Sampdoria, breaking the deadlock deep in extra time with a trademark free-kick past goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca.
1 Juan Carlos
In his three years at Barcelona – 1991–94 – the left-back featured in three title triumphs and the 1992 European Cup success but he was on the bench for the 1994 UEFA Champions League final loss to AC Milan. Started and finished his playing career with Real Valladolid, and more recently returned to the Castilian club as a director.
2 José Mari Bakero
A bit-part player as Real Sociedad claimed two championships in the early 1980s, the attacking midfielder lined up with former club-mates Andoni Goikotxea and Julio Salinas in Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team’. Retired in 1997 after a stint in Mexico, and has since been a coach and consultant, most recently in Venezuela with Deportivo La Guaira.
3 Ion Andoni Goikoetxea
Brought on for Julio Salinas 65 minutes into the epic 1992 final, the midfielder won titles in all four of his seasons at Barcelona, but maintained stronger ties to home-town club Osasuna, where he began and ended his playing career. Helped out with their reserve and senior teams and is now the Pamplona side’s sporting director.
4 Johan Cruyff
One of the great players of his age, Cruyff helped Ajax land three consecutive European Cups from 1970/71 to 1972/73 before altering Barcelona’s footballing DNA as coach from 1988–96. Health issues prompted his withdrawal from front-line coaching, but remained in football as a pundit and adviser until his death, aged 68, in 2016.
5 Josep Guardiola
Schooled in the unfamiliar ‘pivot’ position by Cruyff, Guardiola’s first European Cup with Barcelona would be his last as a player, but he steered the Catalans to two further UEFA Champions Leagues as a coach, and then won three Bundesliga championships with Bayern before moving to Manchester City in summer 2016.
6 Michael Laudrup
The attacking midfielder’s European Cup triumph was soon followed by his decision not to join Denmark at EURO ’92 that summer, missing out on their unbelievable success in Sweden. “The best player in the world,” according to team-mate Guardiola, Laudrup has coached around the world, currently so at Qatari outfit al-Rayyan.
7 Hristo Stoichkov
The skilful ‘Pistolero’ (gunslinger) was impressive in 1992 yet hit his peak two years later, firing Bulgaria to the 1994 FIFA World Cup semi-finals. He later coached Bulgaria and Celta Vigo before returning home for short tenures at Litex Lovech and CSKA Sofia. Now living in Miami and working as a television pundit.
The 1992 final was one of the centre-back’s last matches for Barça, as he agreed to rejoin his first employers Sevilla that summer, only to immediately move to Real Madrid where he figured intermittently from 1992–96. Spent the remainder of his career with the Blaugrana’s neighbours Espanyol, then went into business after hanging up his boots.
9 Ronald Koeman
The attack-minded defender got the winner against Sampdoria to pick up his second European Cup, having launched his collection in 1988 when slotting the opening penalty in PSV’s final shoot-out success against Porto. The only man to have played for and coached PSV, Ajax and Feyenoord, he currently manages Everton.
10 Julio Salinas
The goals – and opportunities – were drying up a bit for the big forward by the time of the 1992 final, his first three seasons after arriving at Barcelona from Atlético Madrid in 1988 proving his most prolific. Retired at 38 after periods with several other clubs and has since worked as a TV commentator.
11 Eusebio Sacristán
Eusebio, Salinas and José Ramón Alexanko were the only players to star in Barcelona’s 1989 European Cup Winners’ Cup final win as well as the 1992 European Cup victory. A favourite of Cruyff, the midfielder later assisted Frank Rijkaard at Camp Nou and coached Barcelona’s B team.