He was the best footballer of the time. It was the perfect transition between Pelé and Diego Maradona. He had shone in Germany 1974. There, at that event, Holland and its main figure surprised the world with their total football. Matters of destiny, his team lost the final. Four years later, the Netherlands reached the final again. But Johan Cruyff was not. There has always been a lot of speculation about why he did not play the World Cup in Argentina 78.
A heavy smoker, Johan Cruyff died on March 24, 2016 from lung cancer. After his work as a footballer, in which he won three gold balls and was a star for Ajax and Barcelona in Spain, he became a coach as revolutionary as when he walked through life in boots.
That he died on March 24, 2016, 40 years after the coup d’état with which the last civic-military dictatorship was established in Argentina, for many could have been a sign. Is that It was even said that Cruyff did not come to Argentina in 1978 in protest against the military government that had taken power by storm on March 24, 1976.
But the motivation for his absence was not political. That was explained at the time by the Dutchman himself in an interview with the Peruvian newspaper Deporte Total. “It wasn’t because of that. If it had been for political reasons, I would never have played in Spain during Franco’s dictatorship.”Cruyff said. “I had announced my retirement from the national team in 1977. I got tired, I had completed my cycle. Many stories were invented about it, ”he declared to the South American newspaper.
The absence of Johan Cryuff in the 78 World Cup: a violent assault
However, his reasons were much more personal, as he revealed in 2008, 30 years after the events, on the airwaves of Catalunya Radio. Before the World Cup in Argentina, he was the victim, along with his family, of an attempted kidnapping at his home in Barcelona. “At that moment someone came and put a rifle to my head, I was tied up, my wife tied up, along with the children in the Barcelona apartment,” recalled the former soccer player.
After that attack, his life changed almost completely. “My children went to school with the police, and in my house I also had surveillance for a few months. There comes a time when you say ‘enough’. There are times when there are other values in life”, he added in that confession. That is why he made the decision not to leave his family and not go to Argentina for several weeks for the World Cup.
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“There are other values, life teaches you that other things are more important”, added the Dutchman and also made a section of the moment that he was then going through in his career as a footballer: “It is also true that I was about to leave football and you don’t go to a World Cup for charity. If the mentality is that you are going to stop, you are not here to leave everything.
Impossible to know if with the presence of Johan Cruyff that Dutch team would have won the final against the team of César Luis Menotti, Mario Kempes and Ubaldo Matildo Fillol, among others. But there is no doubt that this team, with its leader, would have been much more competitive than it was.
Cruyff’s absence from the 1978 World Cup had no repercussions on his career, because he had already achieved glory. In any case, if he had participated and won the title, that thorn he dragged from Germany 1974 would have been removed.
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A year later, in 1979, the footballer left Barcelona, got angry with the leaders and went to the United States for two yearsbefore returning to Ajax Amsterdam, the club where he made his debut and from which he retired in 1984.