A Dutch newspaper has apologised after accidently publishing a story that said footballing legend Johan Cruyff had died.

De Volkskrant sparked fears in the Netherlands after it published a story titled "Johan Cruyff Dead" on its website.

The false story was supposed to be used to test a new way to break major stories but went live by mistake.

The paper's editor, Philippe Remarque, has apologised for the "stupid mistake" after the "story" went viral on social media.

He said: "On behalf of Volkskrant, I offer my apologies to Johan Cruyff and anyone who has been upset by this.

"The app was tested this morning with fake stories and a technician came up with this as a way of testing a major breaking news story. By mistake it appeared with this headline."

The paper also tweeted an apology to the former Ajax and Barcelona manager.

"Due to an error on our new test site, we accidentally published a message about the death of Johan Cruyff. We're sorry," it said.

Cruyff, widely regarded as the greatest Dutch footballer of all time, was capped 48 times for the Netherlands and won the Ballon d'Or three times during his career.