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The Xtra Historic Moment: Johan Cruyff's Iconic Turn That Changed Football Forever

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Prince Jean

Jun 19, 2024

The World Cup Throwback

Cruyff Turn Captivates Global Audience. Credit:eurosport

Fifty years ago today, global news shifted dramatically from mega-topics such as the Watergate Scandal, 'The Rumble in the Jungle,' the Ozark Music Festival, 18-year-old Bjorn Borg's triumph at Roland-Garros, and 'The Godfather II.' Instead, it was monopolized by a split-second act on a German football field.

“The whole world was talking about it,”

said Johan Cruyff, its inventor.

“The response was crazy.”

In one of the dullest matches of the 1974 FIFA World Cup™, between the Netherlands and Sweden, Johan Cruyff performed one of the most mesmerizing moves in football history. Following Arie Haan’s high pass, Cruyff’s deft control and lightning-quick pivot, known as ‘The Cruyff Turn,’ left defender Jan Olsson floundering. This move was as significant to football as Muhammad Ali's victory over George Foreman later that year.

“I never practiced tricks in training,”

Cruyff stated.

“It was spontaneous. I had a problem and needed a solution. It was the best solution.”
“I wasn’t completely sure what he’d done, but I knew it was something outrageous,”

recalled Olsson.

“Every time the ball went to him after that, I prayed: ‘Please don’t do it again!’ I knew instantly it was a historic moment.”

Cruyff, however, had no idea of its impending impact.

“There was a World Cup going on, there was so much happening all over the world, and it was all people wanted to talk about,” he said.

Even Olsson, the move’s victim, felt like a hero.

“I walked into the dressing room after the game, looked at my team-mates, and we all burst out laughing,” Olsson remembered decades later. “I still find it funny now.”
“I still don’t know how he did it. Every time I watch the video, I think, ‘The ball is mine.’ I don’t feel in the slightest bit humiliated. It was a moment of absolute genius. I love everything about it."
“My parents loved it, my friends loved it. People still come up to me with a ball and ask me to do the move with them.
“I think about football every day and every time I do, I think about Johan Cruyff. He was an unbelievable player and a gentleman. I played at the top level for 18 years. That moment against Cruyff is the proudest of my career.”

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