The Hague (AFP) – Football-mad Dutch tenants are vying for the chance to live in a humble, and affordable, two-bedroom home in Amsterdam where icon Johan Cruyff grew up.
More than 1,500 people have swamped a social housing association seeking the chance to live in the modest concrete house for as little as 157 euros a week.
The Netherlands legend and apostle of “total football”, who died in 2016 aged 68, spent his boyhood in the property where his parents ran a shop.
“Until applications closed last night, we’ve had 1,543 requests to be considered for the home,” Ymere housing association spokesman Coen Springelkamp told AFP.
“That’s six or seven times the usual number for social housing. There is huge interest.”
The house has become a pilgrimage site for fans but plans to commemorate Cruyff formally there have now been abandoned.
“We were looking at turning it into a museum, but it was decided to keep it as a social housing property,” Springelkamp said. “There is a dire need for homes in the Netherlands.”
Cruyff, who captained the Netherlands to the World Cup final in 1974, was born in 1947 and grew up in the corner house at 32 Akkerstraat in Amsterdam’s Betondorp (Concrete Town), where his parents ran a fruit and vegetable store.
Built in 1924, the house formed part of a city project to create cheap homes for workers at a time when skilled bricklayers, and even bricks, were in short supply after World War I.
Cruyff lived in the 62 square-metre (667 square feet) home until he turned 12 in 1959, Springelkamp said.
The house is close to the former De Meer stadium — home of Ajax football club until 1996 — where Cruyff spent his formative years.
When Cruyff died six years ago, the front of the house was adorned with a sea of flowers from grieving fans.
Today it still attracts onlookers and there is a window engraved with one of Cruyff’s famous sayings: “Playing outside should be a school subject.”
Because social housing is rent-controlled the new occupants, to be picked from a short-list of 10 applicants, will be charged between 630 and 762 euros a month, depending on their income.
The home’s condition — it comes with a back garden and shed — also added to its high demand, Springelkamp added.
“Who knows, it may even be a family with a budding young football star,” he said.
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