I still remember the FIFA World Cup in Mexico, for the first time broadcasted around the globe in colour. But we had no colour tv at that moment, so my memory is in black and white. Brazil won and names like Pelé, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho and Rivelino are still running around on the green grass somewhere in my brains.
Four years later I saw the colours and they where orange, orange and once again orange. It was the summer of 1974 and the FIFA World Cup took place in West Germany. Brazil was beaten in the bronze game by Poland. Grzegorz Lato scored 7 goals in the tournament and went back home with the Golden Shoe. His country mate Władysław Żmuda won the Best Young Player Award.
But the number 14 in the Flying Dutch crew left the building with the Golden Ball, as player of the tournament. When Johan Cruyff - Hendrik Johannes (Johan) Cruijff - entered the Niedersachsenstadion in Hannover on the 15:th of June forty years ago I finally realised what football can be, what kind of game it is as it's best. That evening Johnny Rep scored twice against Uruguay and Jan Jongbloed kept his goal clean and shiny.
Yes, the Netherlands were a complete team, an artistic, a creative and flexible clockwork orange - not just an impressive star with ten apostles or hang arounds. Cryuff, Rep, Jongbloed, Johan Neeskens, Rob Rensenbrink, Arie Haan, Ruud Krol, Wim Jansen, Wim Suurbier, Willem van Hanegem, Jan van Beveren - those where the names I would like to remember. And last but far from least Rinus Michels - Marinus (Rinus) Jacobus Hendricus Michels - as coach. Spider of the web. The man who invented the major tactic: total football. In 1999 FIFA rewarded him as "coach of the century".
I know what I did that summer. I truly lost my football heart to "Oranje". The above mentioned Poland also played beautifully in the 1974 World Cup. Yugoslavia rings a bell or two, as well as Sweden with Ralf Edström. Yugoslavia crushed Zaire with 9-0 and Sweden succeeded with a draw 0-0 against the Dutch. In the second round West Germany won over Yugoslavia with 2-0 and Poland with 2-1. Sweden-Yugoslavia resulted in 2-1 and in the matches against West Germany and Poland the swedes were defeated with 2-4 and 0-1. The italian goal keeper Dino Zoff is a name I have not forgotten either.
On the 6:th of July the ruling world champion Brazil could not score a single goal. Lato, the man with the Golden Shoe, could score and so Poland became a World Cup medal winner. Next day did not end totally as well as I had hoped and wished. Though the final started as a dream come through: Neeskens put a penalty kick behind the back of West Germanys goal keeper Sepp Maier after only two minutes. But Paul Breitner aswered with a penalty goal some twenty minutes later. Gerhard "Gerd" Müller, the nation's Bomber, finally turned the direction with a goal two minutes before half time. West Germany had won it's second World Cup with 2-1.
But forty years is a pretty long time. If you return to a book or film you liked and loved in the seventies, you might be slightly or jolly disappointed. It can be the same with football teams and games. Check out for yourself, Youtube is an expanding time machine. Here are glimpses from Netherlands - Brazil on the 3:rd of July, with Neeskens and Cryuff scoring one goal each.
Anyway, Oranje, thank you! The victory with 5-1 against Spain yesterday was a new memory to enjoy!