Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff lost his battle with cancerReuters

Dutch football great Johan Cruyff has died after his long battle with cancer. He was 68.

The three-time European footballer of the year lost his battle with lung cancer Thursday. 

"On March 24, 2016 Johan Cruyff (68) died peacefully in Barcelona, surrounded by his family after a hard fought battle with cancer. It's with great sadness that we ask you to respect the family's privacy during their time of grief," read a statement on the World of Johan Cruyff website.

It was announced only last October that the Ajax and Barcelona legend Barcelona legend was diagnosed with the disease. "With great sadness we have learned of the death of Johan Cruyff. Words are not enough," wrote the Dutch football federation on Twitter.

Ajax issued a short statement that read: "Johan Cruyff has died in Barcelona at the age of 68. The greatest Ajax player of all time had suffered with lung cancer since October last year. Ajax share in this great loss and wish the families much strength."

Barcelona tweeted: "We will always love you, Johan. Rest in peace."

Cruyff lifted the Dutch league title with Ajax on eight occasions and was a part of the golden generation of Dutch football. He was also the European Footballer of the Year in 1971, 1973 and 1974; the former attacking midfielder also remained one of the most instrumental players as he guided his nation to the final of the FIFA World Cup in 1974 when Holland were defeated by West Germany.

He returned as a manager in Barcelona in 1988 and guided the Spanish heavyweights to four back-to-back La Liga titles. Cruyff had won one La Liga title as a Barcelona player.