The time Johan Cruyff almost signed for Dumbarton

Johan Cruyff made more visits to Scotland to play golf than football, but in 1980 the Dutch legend was tempted to make what would have been a sensational move '“ to Boghead, home of Scottish First Division side Dumbarton.

The legendary footballer lost his battle with cancer on Thursday. Picture: PA
The legendary footballer lost his battle with cancer on Thursday. Picture: PA

Sean Fallon, who was the Dumbarton manager, spotted an opportunity at a time when the 33-year-old superstar was open to offers after leaving Los Angeles Aztecs.

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“Cruyff was struggling a bit financially in those days because he’d lost all his money in a bad investment, so we felt offering him a few thousand pounds per game might tempt him,” said Fallon as he recalled the story 20 years later.

“We needed to boost the club’s image and show the fans we were trying at Boghead so I came up with the scheme to ask Cruyff if he’d sign for us. I won’t argue if you call it a publicity stunt but I flew to Amsterdam and met Johan, who politely listened to what I had to say.”

Cruyff confirmed that he had taken the offer seriously when he was asked about it during a visit to St Andrews in 2012.

“Was I tempted? Yes, of course,” he said.

“Playing in England, or Britain, was something I had always wanted to do. But I thought I was too old at that stage to go to Scotland, where you know the weather will be difficult.

“When you’re old your muscles get stiff, and moving to a cold country is asking for problems.”

Instead, Cruyff signed for Washington Diplomats in the NASL … and Dumbarton fans were left wondering what might have been.