Jordi Cruyff began his playing career with local team Ajax, before joining Catalan giants Barcelona, where his father Johan was manager.

After his move to Old Trafford in August 1996, he said of the intrusive nature of the Spanish press: "They don't know what's going on inside, so I don't pay any attention to them." These were the same words of advice that Matt Busby gave to Alex Ferguson, when he was struggling at United in the late Eighties.

Jordi's first full season at United was somewhat mixed. He began the season with a real taste of how tough the English Premier League can be. His first two games for United were an away game at Wimbledon and a home game against the supposed 'dark horses' of the title race, Everton.

He came through both games with flying colours, rescuing a point against Everton (scoring on his home debut) and repeating the feat when United found themselves 2-0 down against Blackburn a game later.

However, his season was to be halted by a combination of injuries and bad luck. Nevertheless, he ended the season on a high note, picking up a Premier League Championship medal and scoring United's final goal of the season against West Ham United at Old Trafford.

In United's 1997-98 pre-season, Jordi impressed more than most and was rewarded with a place in the starting line up for United's first three games of the season, before injury struck.

An established international, Jordi has been capped several times by his country, winning himself a place in the Dutch squad for Euro' 96. Jordi considers that tournament to be one of the main reasons why he came to England to play.

"There is a very good atmosphere here, I think this country has a positive attitude towards football. I shared a room with Dennis Bergkamp during the tournament (Euro 96) and he told me how happy he was in England. That made me think about playing over here."

On 15th January 1999, Jordi joined Spanish club Celta Vigo on loan until the end of the season. The Dutchman tied up his temporary transfer hours before the Spanish deadline, after being granted permission by United to do so.

Alex Ferguson supported the move, saying, "I can appreciate the dilemma he is in. He was doing very well for us until November when he suffered a hamstring injury against Blackburn ... at the moment if he is not in our first team, all he is getting is a few Reserve matches. Certainly to go to Celta Vigo would be a better test for him and it would benefit him."

Many expected Cruyff to make his move to Spain permanent in the summer of 1999 but with United facing possibly 70 games in this season Alex Ferguson felt he needed all the players he could get and recalled the Dutchman to Old Trafford. Whether his fortunes at United will improve will have to be seen.

Patrick Eustace 2000. Last modified on Thurs, 27 Jan, 2000

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