Here’s 6 Minutes Of Johan Cruyff Being Absolutely Unplayable At The ’74 World Cup
The greatest footballing nation to have never won the World Cup? It’s the Netherlands. The Oranje have thrice reached the final, losing to hosts West Germany in ’74, hosts Argentina in ’78 and Spain in 2010. The most famous of those defeats came against the Germans, because this was a tournament that had been turned into a pageant for the Dutch vision of Total Football.
Led by captain Johan Cruyff, the Netherlands recorded victories over Uruguay, Bulgaria, Argentina (4-0), East Germany and Brazil before going 1-0 up on West Germany in the final after only two minutes. Dutch winger Johnny Rep recalls the feeling after that opening goal: “We wanted to humiliate the Germans. It wasn’t something we’d thought about, but we did it. We started knocking the ball around — and we forgot to score a second.”
An infamous dive from Bernd Holzenbein allowed Paul Breitner to equalize from the spot, and Gerd Muller scored what would turn out to be the winner in the 43rd minute.
Despite Muller’s heroics for West Germany throughout the tournament, what’s most fondly remembered outside of the host nation is the Dutch play. The likes of Johan Neeskens, Ruud Krol, Rob Rensenbrink, Rep and the talisman Cruyff showed the world a new style of football that's legacy continues to reverberate nearly 45 years later.
After the tournament’s completion, Cruyff would be awarded the Golden Ball as the competition’s best player. Here’s a six-minute video detailing his movement, passing, dribbling and three goals at the 1974 FIFA World Cup.
(There’s no audio here so feel free to put something appropriate on, maybe something like this).