JIMMY Calderwood looked back with fondness last night on his days being humiliated by Johan Cruyff. This was during the early 80s, when the Dutch master should have been in the autumn of his career, supposedly a diminished force due to his years of chain smoking.

Yet here he was, driving Ajax imperiously on to back-to-back league titles in his mid-to-late 30s, before typically falling out with head coach Leo Beenhakker and extracting the ultimate revenge by jumping ship to their deadly rivals Feyenood and inspiring them to a League and Cup double instead.

Calderwood, who first locked horns with Cruyff in a friendly match with Birmingham, was at Willem II and Roda JC back then. And as the resident Scotsman, was frequently asked to man-mark him. It was quite possibly the most daunting task in world football.

"Every time we played against him, because I was Scottish, they thought I would kick him," said Calderwood. "And I would have done, but I couldn't catch him. Even at 36, 37 years of age and smoking 60 cigarettes a day, he was absolute lightning and his brain was so sharp. In one way it was great to play against him but in other ways it was a nightmare. I had no chance."

But what really sticks in Calderwood's memory banks most is the recollection that, like a captain at cricket, or an orchestra conductor, Cruyff was essentially managing the team whilst playing in it. "When you were playing against him, and you just couldn't get the ball off him, he was also telling everyone where to run," said Calderwood. "He would have the ball at his feet and be saying to [Marco] Van Basten or whoever else 'on you go, on you go' then he might go for another wee dribble or something. He was just waving to people, saying 'you go there' and 'you go up there'."

Everybody knows Cruyff's greatness as a footballer. Calderwood also knows him as a great man, even if some found him demanding at times. "The problem was that he was good at everything," said Calderwood. "At Ajax in those days, they had a kind of bar area with a snooker table. And Johan would say to all the other players 'no, don't do it like that, you do it like this'. They were all cracking up.

"In the end, he got pissed off with Ajax and went to Feyenoord," the former Aberdeen manager added. "Leo Beenhakker was the manager of Ajax at that time and I don't think Johan liked him so at the end of the season he went to Feyenoord just to annoy him, because that is like moving from Rangers to Celtic or vice versa. You just don't kind of do those things, but that sums up Johan for you.

"He was so strong in the head, it was his way or no-one's way, but that is no bad thing, because he was a very clever man," he added. "He was great company too, you can never forget that. He was an absolutely fantastic man and it is very, very sad. He was an absolute legend the world over, so it is a sad day for the whole of world football."

While Barcelona - Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez did the old sideways penalty trick - carry on his legacy, confirmation of Cruyff's willingness to spend time with an old pal came in Fife at one of his frequent visits to the Dunhill Links championship. Asked to help arrange a SkySports interview, Calderwood was greeted warmly and an hour was duly set aside. The last question was 'did you play against Jimmy often?'. "Yes, many times," said Cruyff. "He always tried to kick me."