The night Total Football conquered Wembley thanks to Cruyff and his Orange masters
This was the night Holland came to town and painted it orange with the supreme craft of Johan Cruyff, the flair of Johan Neeskens and the swagger of Johnny Rep.
Wembley stood to applaud the Dutch players from the pitch at half-time as they handed Don Revie’s side a lesson in the power of Total Football.
Cruyff was the inevitable star of a slick exhibition rated by some as the most emphatic display by an away team against England since the Hungarians of 1953.
But, as MATT BARLOW and NEIL MOXLEY describe, it was NEC Nijmegen winger Jan Peters who stole the headlines with both goals in a 2-0 triumph…
Pure genius: The brilliant Johan Cruyff led Holland in their 2-0 win over England at Wembley
ENGLAND (4-4-2): Clemence; Clement, Doyle, Watson, Beattie; Greenhoff (Todd 40min), Madeley (Pearson 74), Brooking, Bowles; Keegan (capt), Francis. Manager: Don Revie.
HOLLAND (4-3-3): Schrijvers; Suurbier, Krol, Hovenkamp, Rijsbergen; Van der Kerkhof, Peters, Neeskens; Rep (Kist 75), Cruyff (capt), Rensenbrink. Manager: Jan Zwartkruis.
Scorer: Peters 28, 36.
Referee: Walter Eschweiler (West Germany).
JAN PETERS: ‘That was a very important game. Around that time, we hadn’t had very good results, but we won 2-0, I scored both goals, and it was the first and only time I played in the national team with Johan Cruyff, so for me personally it was extra special.
‘I was only playing for a small team, so to then play at Wembley – a place that every player thinks is the most beautiful stadium in the world – and to score two goals, was wonderful. It was a highlight for me as a player.
‘After the game at Wembley I moved to AZ in Alkmaar. They were one of the best teams in the Netherlands. We won the cup three times, won the championship once and also reached the UEFA Cup final, where we lost to Ipswich Town. It was a very good time for me.’
It would be the only time this wonderful Dutch team of the Seventies would play in England. To many, they were the best international side never to win a major trophy, losing in the World Cup finals of 1974 and 1978 and finishing third in the 1976 European Championship.
England were down in the dumps. They had failed to qualify for the Germany ’74 World Cup and a 2-0 defeat to Italy in Rome, in a World Cup qualifier on their previous outing in November 1976, would ultimately deny them a place at Argentina ’78.
SIR TREVOR BROOKING: ‘The teams Holland produced in ’74 and ’78 showed the quality of that generation, and the outstanding talents were Cruyff and Neeskens.
‘We all knew Cruyff’s strengths but we couldn’t stop him. He was the ultimate two-footed player with devastating acceleration and the ability to go past anyone. Neeskens was the attacking midfielder with the skills to open up defences. I can remember long spells when we couldn’t get the ball.
‘They were the equivalent of the modern Spain team and everyone was trying to understand the Dutch philosophy of possession and rotating positions. They were ahead of their time.
Dutch courage: Rudi Krol gets away from Trevor Brooking on the hallowed Wembley turf
Johan Cryuff dominated last night’s match as no great player has ever dominated Wembley before. He had 61 touches of the ball and of his 50 passes, 30 were positively forward balls. He switched play with some stunning 40-yard passes which left the crowd and England’s defenders gasping. Unlike some stars, Cruyff also worked hard, often appearing in his own penalty area. /02/28/article-2107856-11F56D3C000005DC-365_306x490.jpg” width=”306″ height=”490″ alt=”Key man: Holland's Jan Peters” class=”blkBorder” />
Key man: Holland's Jan Peters
KEVIN BEATTIE: ‘They ripped us to pieces that night. I only played nine times for England but that was easily the worst game. Cruyff was unbelievable. They just passed the ball so quickly, all the way through the team from back to front.
‘We couldn’t get near them and even Don Revie afterwards admitted they had played some smashing stuff. It was Total Football and, although on one hand it was just awful, you really had to admire it. I’ve no idea why I’m flat out for the goal. I must have been having a lie-down. I’d been marking Robbie Rensenbrink and he’d tired me out.’
Revie handed a debut to Trevor Francis. Talk about a baptism of fire for the 22-year-old!
TREVOR FRANCIS: ‘I had waited a long time to make my international debut and was thrilled when Don Revie chose me to play. It wasn’t the greatest of starts for me, but I know I won’t be alone when I say it was no disgrace on this particular occasion because that Dutch team contained some very special players.
‘People ask about Total Football, and what it was like to play against, in practice.
THE STATS FROM THE NIGHT
0 times Holland had beaten England before their 2-0 win (lost three and drawn two)
400 lucky Dutch fans were allowed in, though their tickets were stuck in the hold of a plane
61 touches by Johan Cruyff – 40 more than debutant Trevor Francis
260 thousand pounds taken in gate receipts, from 90,260 fans
100 thousand pounds of the gate the Dutch took home, having won
‘The fact was that this was the first time that players were expected to be comfortable in possession, regardless of where they stood on the pitch. That was a novelty. It hadn’t been seen before. They were also supposed to interchange their position and be intelligent enough to realise what was going on around them.
‘I would go so far as to say there were three who you could term as world-class. Even now, when you are talking about the greats of the game, they would have to be discussed. Certainly, that went for Cruyff. He was the best player in Europe at that time. He was the one player I tried to model parts of my own game upon.
‘His speed with the ball that night was terrific. And he had this knack of almost stopping to a standstill. It would lull the defender into a false sense of security. Almost like that nothing was happening, that he was stuck for an idea. Then he would explode into action. He had great pace from a standing start.
‘I also tried to copy the move that became known as the “Cruyff turn”. I practised it relentlessly.
Game over: Jan peters fired home the decisive goal as Robby Rensenbrink (centre), England's Micky Doyle (right) and Kevin Beattie (on ground extremme right) watch on
England joined the rest of the secondraters in the gutter of world football last night. The last dregs of self-respect drained away to the accompaniment of Wembley’s new theme tune, ‘What a load of rubbish’. To be one of 90,000 Englishmen in this once impregnable stadium was a demoralising experience, as even manager Don Revie bore unhappy witness. For England were not merely beaten for the first time by Holland.. . they were torn apart.
JEFF POWELL in Sportsmail the next day
‘The fulcrum of the team was Johan Neeskens. He was the Dutch version of Bryan Robson who, if he hadn’t been standing in Cruyff’s shadow, would have received far more recognition than he did. Lastly, there was Rudi Krol, who wasn’t part of the great Ajax side of the early 1970s, but was nevertheless, in my eyes, the equal of Franz Beckenbauer.’
Peters is now on the coaching staff at amateur club De Treffers in the third tier of Dutch football but is not enamoured with Bert van Marwijk’s Holland team, despite their progress, because they do not uphold the legacy of Total Football.
JAN PETERS: ‘They had good results but the football was not what we like in Holland. When all of the best players are in good form then I think we can win the Euros – but every team will be at a high level.
‘Robin van Persie is one of the most important players. Robin plays in England very well, but in the national team he hasn’t had a big impact. I hope he can reach the same level that he plays for Arsenal.’
A full interview with Jan Peters will appear in the official matchday programme