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Koeman offers support to former boss Cruyff in cancer battle

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has offered a message of support to his friend and former coach Johan Cruyff following the Dutch football great's diagnosis with lung cancer.

Koeman played under countryman Cruyff for six years as part of Barcelona's feted "Dream Team", winning four consecutive Liga titles between 1991 and 1994 along with the 1992 European Cup – scoring the winner against Sampdoria at Wembley.

Speaking to a media conference ahead of Southampton's Premier League clash with Liverpool at the weekend, Koeman hailed Cruyff as his favourite coach and spoke of the time they spent together away from football in Catalonia.

Cruyff's management company released a statement on Thursday to confirm the 68-year-old was battling the serious illness.

"He was my favourite coach. I played six years being coached by Johan Cruyff," Koeman said.

"Not only the relationship between player and coach but also as friends – we always had Christmases together in Barcelona at that time.

"It is sad news and I wish all the best to him and his family.

"He was always a winning man – a winning football player and a winning coach. I hope that he will win this battle also."