Irwin: Jordi was always talking about football!

Tuesday 14 February 2023 08:57

Denis Irwin is not surprised that his former Manchester United team-mate Jordi Cruyff is now experiencing success as Barcelona’s sporting director of football.

The Dutchman played at the Nou Camp from 1993 to 1996 and then moved to United. He enjoyed four years as a Red, scoring eight goals in 58 matches and playing a part in the Treble season.

When he retired from playing, Cruyff became a sporting director at AEK Larnaca in Cyprus and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, before dabbling in management with the latter, the Ecuador national team and Chinese side Shenzhen. 

As the son of late, great, Johan Cruyff, Jordi has always been intrinsically linked to Barcelona and he made an emotional return to the Catalan club in September 2022 as their new sporting director of football.
Jordi was a popular member of the squad during his four seasons at United.
While it was clearly a turbulent time in Barca’s history, with many off-the-pitch problems to fix, Cruyff has made an excellent start and has literally guided them back to the top of La Liga, with Xavi also working wonders as head coach.

Barcelona are currently 11 points clear of rivals Real Madrid in the title race and enjoying a 16-match unbeaten run across all competitions, with United coming to town on Thursday evening. 

When we sat down with Irwin ahead of the Europa League play-off tie, we asked the Irishman if he ever expected his old team-mate Cruyff to take on such a prestigious role in football. 
“Yeah, I could, yeah,” smiled Denis. “Jordi was always talking about football. Obviously, his dad was a fantastic player for Barcelona, a fantastic player for Holland. Manager of Barcelona as well. 

“When we beat them in ’91 in the Cup Winners’ Cup he was manager, so I think it was always in his blood that after football he would go on and do something. 
Cruyff, pictured with the Premier League trophy, Eric Cantona and Nicky Butt, in 1997.
“Obviously he has arrived via a number of countries and I suppose at his home. I can see him being very intelligent and they’ve done very well this season, Barcelona, because they’ve had a tough two or three seasons as well and they’ve signed some really good players. 

“It will be a tough test for us, but yeah I could see him and if you ask most of our ex-players that have played with Jordi as well, you could see him going and being involved in football in the future.”

Barcelona v United kicks off at 17:45 GMT on Thursday.

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