Johan Cruyff has been diagnosed with lung cancer, a spokesperson for the legendary figure for both Barcelona and Dutch football has confirmed.
Cruyff discovered on Tuesday that he was suffering from the disease and will now undergo further tests to ascertain how much the condition has advanced.
"He has been in hospital this week for tests and lung cancer has been confirmed," Carole Thate, a spokesperson for Cruyff, told the Associated Press.
As football figures wished his well, Cruyff took to Twitter to express his gratitude for the messages of support in Spanish, Dutch and English:
Muchas gracias, Dank jullie wel, Thank you for all your support. https://t.co/XvmDdICj8p
- Johan Cruyff (@JohanCruyff) October 22, 2015
World football's governing body, FIFA, sent its support, tweeting:
- FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) October 22, 2015
Barcelona financial vice president Susana Monje sent the club's best wishes to its former player and coach.
"We would like from the club to give Johan Cruyff and all of his friends a very big hug after hearing today of the situation that he is living through,'' Monje said.
Johan, you'll win this one too! The whole Club is behind you.
- Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) October 22, 2015
The Dutch football association and Ajax also expressed shock and wished Cruyff and his family well.
A statement on the KNVB website read: "The KNVB was shocked to hear of the serious illness of Johan Cruyff. We wish him, his wife and family a lot of strength and support. Our thoughts are with Johan and we hope for the best for his health. As soon as possible, we will notify the family of our condolences personally."
The 68-year-old, who most recently held a post as manager of Catalonia's unofficial "national" team, was a smoker during his playing days and previously underwent heart surgery in 1991 during his time in charge of Barca.
Afterwards, he became the face of an anti-smoking campaign.
One of the game's greatest ever players, Cruyff was a key part of the Ajax side that won three straight European Cups between 1971-73, and also the Dutch national side which reached the World Cup final in 1974. Although he was on the losing side against his country's neighbours and major rivals, West Germany, Cruyff was named the Player of the Tournament and the same year won the last of his three Ballon d'Or titles.
He moved to Barcelona in 1973, but despite winning La Liga and the Copa del Rey during his five years at the Camp Nou his biggest impact came when he returned as manager in 1988.
Having led Ajax to two Eredivisie titles and the Cup Winners' Cup, Cruyff brought even greater glory to Catalonia. He steered the club to four league titles and their first European Cup during his eight years in charge, as well as laying the foundations for the club's heavy focus on youth development and defining a style of play that ran through all levels at the club.