Ruud Doevendans

Ruud Doevendans has been an official columnist for a Dutch club and owns one of the largest collections of soccer videos containing hundreds of World Cup matches. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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Johan Cruijff cost Holland two World Cups

    Holland has been known for an attacking, entertaining style of football throughout the last 30 years. One of the masterminds behind their style was Johan Cruijff, the elegant dribbler and good finisher, who also set up attacks while showing his teammates where to go. What a blessing to have him around? By no means! The presence of Cruijff, and most of all his struggle for power behind the scenes, cost Holland dear. To be more exact, two World Cup titles! On the field, Johan Cruijff has been one of the best things that could ever happen to Dutch football, off the field he has been the worst by far.

    Jan van Beveren, the extremely talented PSV-goalkeeper, was a man who played for the crowd. A wizard, capable of doing magical things between the posts. The best Holland had ever had, by a mile. Cruijff and Van Beveren, the biggest row in Dutch football history. With the most dramatic consequences. They must have been enemies since they first met. The tall and flexible Van Beveren opposed very heavily to all privileges Cruijff had in the Dutch squad: arriving late for trainingcamps, not having to play at all because of business-affaires, smoking in the dressingroom. And, like so often in Holland, it was about money. Van Beveren, not afraid of standing up against the emancipated Ajax-players, said: we're in it together, everyone has to work for a good result, so we all have the same rights and the same duties. But that was not the case in the Holland-team, Cruijff was the "animal to be created equal, but a little more equal than the others".

    When Van Beveren got injured badly in 1973, Cruijff immediately took his chance to get rid of this powerthreatening teammate. With his big influence on coaches, he talked Amsterdam-born Jan Jongbloed into the squad for the World Cup 1974. He was a rather mediocre, elderly goalkeeper who previously had played just one cap, as a substitute in 1962. Of course Jongbloed, who never in his life had expected this invitation, gladly accepted a role in Cruijff's shadow, where Van Beveren - with the world at his feet - wanted to win the title and to get global recognition for the superb goalie he was. With both Cruijff and Van Beveren in the team, it had been to be seen who would have been considered as the greatest star in the Dutch team. Cruijff knew it, couldn't accept another superman beside him and persuaded coach Rinus Michels to draft in Jongbloed. Van Beveren still could have made it to the finals, since he had recovered in may. He just needed one or two weeks to regain match-fitness. But Michels urged him to play a meaningless testgame against Hamburger SV, or to stay at home. Other more or less injured players got the chance to prove their fitness until a couple of days before travelling to Germany. Van Beveren, had he gotten the same opportunity, would have been fit for the first match against Uruguay. It wasn't to be, Holland lost the final after conceding two soft goals.

    Between 1974 and 1978, Cruijff again managed to keep his big rival out of the team. Because Van Beveren was in his best form they just couldn't ignore him, again the were some quarrels (Van Beveren left the team in 1975 but came back later) and in the end he was left on the bench behind three different goalkeepers. When he asked Jan Zwartkruis why he had been picked at all when it was clear that he would never play, the coach said: "Jan, don't blame, I am being manipulated. I have no chance." Cruijff had threatened never to play for Holland again, with Van Beveren in the same team. And the Dutch people would never have forgiven the coach, who let Cruijff go. Van Beveren knew enough, withdrew from the Dutch team after 32 caps. It was 1977, the world's best goalkeeper was just 29 years of age.

    Jan van Beveren is the best goalkeeper the world has ever seen. But he's never recognized as the best, and that is mainly because he never made it to the stage of the World Cup. And that is because he wasn't a part of the Ajax-clan of the seventies. Everybody may say I'm crazy, I don't mind. I can judge him, I've seen many games of him, I can compare him to other goalies and .... I have a sense of soccer. He could stop shots like I've never seen anybody doing, and in a majestical style. He would have saved Müllers soft shot easily, with both eyes closed and with his left hand bound on his back. He would have had a fair chance to save Breitner's weak penalty-kick. Don't ever think that Van Beveren would have allowed Kempes and Bertoni to squeeze through and take Argentina to the worldtitle. With Jan van Beveren as their goalkeeper, Holland would have been World Cup winners in 1974 and 1978. Cruijff also wanted to be a world champion, but only if he could be the one and only star himself. And it proved to be not enough.



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