When Cruyff left his mark

When Cruyff left his mark

THE MAGICIAN Johan Cruyff (right) put in spellbinding performances but they were still not enough as the Netherlands lost to West Germany in the final.

The FIFA World Cup has been lit up by many fantastic players, but a few transcend that level and are considered legends of the game today.

An unassuming attacker with golden locks and the grace of a ballet dancer burst onto to the scene in the 1934 World Cup hosted by West Germany.

Johan Cruyff -- a product of the Ajax academy, the man nicknamed the Flying Dutchman -- left audiences mesmerised when he made Swedish defender Jan Olsson look almost amateurish with a delightful move that would be named in his honour ‘Cruyff turn’.

The Holland team were a fabulous lot to watch and, though it is disputed, they were the first team to make popular the concept of ‘Total Football’ where players were expected to fit into any position expected of them.

Cruyff and John Neeskens were the heartbeat of the Dutch team and thorough entertainers with their wily footwork and brilliant movement.

While there were positives aplenty from the Dutch, other sub-plots during the group stages were a lot darker.

A relatively competent Scotland were burdened with issues even before the tournament began as after securing their World Cup qualification, skipper Billy Bremner and Jimmy Johnstone were involved in a late night incident.

Despite the Scottish FA wanting to ban both men, manager Willie Ormond argued their case and they got off the hook. Bremner repaid his faith to his manager with some inspiring performances in West Germany, even garnering the praise of Pele.

If aesthetic beauty was the defining factor between winning and losing, Holland would have won the title the minute they touched the ball. But the efficiency of the hosts, and the proficiency of Gerd Muller and Franz Beckenbauer etched West Germany’s name on the new World Cup Trophy.

Final result: West Germany: 2 bt Holland: 1.