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.
Read earlier columns
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
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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