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FIFA World Cup moments: When Johan Cruyff flummoxed Jan Olsson in 1974 with the Cruyff Turn

The legendary Johan Cruyff gave football many gifts. Total Football. The Ajax team of 1960s and 1970s. The technical football of Barcelona in the mid-1970s. Tiki-taka. The Dutch national team’s aesthetically pleasing style in the 1970s. La Masia. Pep Guardiola, the midfielder. Guardiola, the manager.

And the Cruyff Turn.


En route to guiding the Dutch national team to a runner-ups finish at the 1974 World Cup, Cruyff first showcased this move in a group match against Sweden at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion.

With Swedish defender Jan Olsson snapping at his heels on the left wing, Cruyff executed a feint by drawing his leg as if to pass the ball back to the centre of the pitch, but instead dropped his shoulder and pulled the ball behind his standing leg. He then completed the move by swivelling 180-degrees and streaking with the ball towards the Swedish goal while Olsson, completely wrong-footed, was stranded.

Johan Cruyff could not help Netherlands win the World Cup, but he gave the world The Cruyff Turn in 1974 FIFA World Cup. AFP

Johan Cruyff could not help Netherlands win the World Cup, but he gave the world The Cruyff Turn in 1974 FIFA World Cup. AFP

The move did not result in a goal but was etched in the history books as the Cruyff Turn. Similarly, while Netherlands did not win the World Cup that year, the Cruyff Turn became the defining image of Netherlands’ national football team. Reams upon reams of newsprint have been spent describing the goal since that day in June 1974, with it being described as the ‘mother of all dummies’.

When the legendary Dutch footballer passed away in 2016, the unwitting victim of the Cruyff Turn, Olsson, gave an emotional interview to Swedish broadcaster SVT where he recounted the move.

He said, “A long ball came towards the corner flag and I was after him. I had his back and I thought I had the situation under control. He went to cross and I thought I’d go to cover it — but the ball wasn’t there...

“There were 25,000 Dutch fans in the section where I was fooled, and you can imagine how they shouted and cheered,” Olsson said before adding, “I didn’t understand it, I just wondered where the ball was. It was a fun episode, and I’m glad to have met a player of that class.

“He was one of the world’s best players and leaders, this is very tragic, it was far too soon.”

Hal Robson-Kanu used the same skill two years ago to score a famous goal for Wales against Belgium at Euro 2016. His goal even made it to FIFA Puskas Award shortlist.

But just how difficult the Cryuff Turn is to execute in the heat of a match became apparent in 2013, thanks to then Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc.

Playing against Arsenal in a Premier League match, the ’keeper tried the move against Gunners striker Olivier Giroud. However, he fluffed his lines to allow the Frenchman to steal the ball and score an easy goal. Giroud had not scored in a month before that goal in the 22nd minute of the match. Boruc claimed later on Instagram that he had attempted to do the Cryuff Turn, but admitted it had spectacularly failed.

To read about other FIFA World Cup moments, click here.

Updated Date: May 18, 2018 20:56 PM

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