"If you have the ball, the opponent doesn't have it." Phrases like this have immortalized the mythical 14th dorsal of the Dutch team, one of the architects of the 'Mechanical Orange' that dominated football in the seventies with an unmistakable style.
As a club player, El Flaco astonished the world with the colours of Ajax Amsterdam, FC Barcelona, Feyenoord of the Diplomats and the Aztecs in their final stage.
However, it is Cruyff's Dutch jersey that has lasted the longest in the memory of fans. His epic victories over Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as his defeat to Beckenbauer's Germany, left a deep mark on world history.
But what was the design of Cruyff's 1974 Dutch jersey like, what was the design of his 1996 debut and 1977 farewell? Why did you have a legal battle with Puma and Adidas? Find out in the following lines!
How was Cruyff's Dutch shirt, the most iconic of the 'Mechanical Orange'?
Although Cruyff's 1974 Netherlands jersey is the most famous in the history of this team, the 'Skinny' immortalized many other garments throughout his career, highlighting three in particular: 1966, 1976 and 1977.
Cruyff made his national team debut at the end of 1966. Hungary would be his first opponent, and although he failed to win, he did arouse the public's interest by scoring the second goal that gave the Dutch team a draw.
That year's World Cup in England would not immortalize either Cruyff or his poorly performing national team. The period of domination of the 'Mechanical Orange' had to wait at least a decade.
The most famous number 14 of all time wore a very sober shirt design, with the orange shirt characteristic of the Dutch team, without major adornments. The shorts and socks were black, and the embroidery of the shield was deficient, although the images of the time that are preserved are also.
Ten years later, things improved for both Cruyff and his national team, who would be the 'black beast' of the World Cups in the 1970s. Proof of this is Cruyff's 1976 Dutch jersey, one of the most popular of all time.
Her design was very similar to that of 1974, with the orange shirt adorned with two black lines on the long sleeves, black trousers and orange socks, provided with a classic linear decoration on the top.
Despite being defeated 3-0 by Czechoslovakia in the semi-finals, the Netherlands would achieve more than third place against hosts Yugoslavia: they would earn the respect of their rivals for the unmistakable play of touch and possession they had shown.
However, no collection of the 'Flaco''s clothing would be complete without the 1977 model, with which he played his final Oranje matches.
This Dutch Cruyff jersey had a traditional design, although slightly more elaborate than the 1976 one, as can be seen in the black round neck and cuffs of the same colour.
This outfit witnessed the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Although Cruyff never played it, he did his bit in the qualifying stages, helping his team beat the Belgian team on 26 October 1977. When the final whistle blew, the 'Flaco' said goodbye to his fans forever.
And it wasn't an easy farewell for the Dutch genius. As an anecdote, it is worth mentioning that the newspapers De Telegraaf and Avro's Sportpanorama collected 14 thousand signatures to persudiate the 'Flaco' and get him to play in the World Cup in Argentina.
According to certain analysts, Johan Cruyff's withdrawal was precipitated by the impossibility of reaching an agreement with Adidas. The Dutchman had a dispute with the German brand on Puma's account.
Later we will reveal why Cruyff was the only player who wore two lines on the sleeves of his shirt, rather than the three his teammates wore.
Why Cruyff's 1974 Dutch T-shirt is the object of desire among fans and collectors
However, we still haven't mentioned the most emblematic outfit that the Ajax star wore for his national team: Cruyff's 1974 Netherlands jersey.
This kit is proud to be one of the most in demand among collectors and fans alike, due to its strong symbolic value - it represented a lot for the Oranje!
And not just for this team, but for Barça de Guardiola, Spain's Aragonese and Del Bosque and other teams who were influenced by his touch and possession play.
During the 1974 World Cup, Adidas was once again the official manufacturer of the Dutch. Cruyff and his teammates' outfits had a conventional design: the t-shirt and socks were orange, with black linear motifs on the sleeves and the tops of the socks. The shorts were also black and contained orange lines.
Under Rinus Michels, Cruyff's Dutch jersey was the undisputed protagonist of his victories over Sweden, Uruguay, Democratic Germany, Brazil and Argentina.
Only the Germany of Gerd Mueller, Paul Breitner and of course Franz Beckenbauer managed to stop the 'Mechanical Orange'. Munich's Olympic Stadium witnessed the German team's 2-1 win over Cruyff's Netherlands, whose good play is considered one of the best in World Cup history.
What about the legal battle between Puma, Adidas and Cruyff?
As well as being a football revolutionary, Johan Cruyff was rebellious by nature, a quality that came to the fore in various episodes of his professional career.
Cruyff's 1974 Netherlands jersey was involved in one of the most unusual in (or rather, ignored) memory. Few people knew the legal battle that the mythical No14 had with Adidas because of his sponsorship with Puma.
This dispute began before the World Cup in Argentina, in 1974, days before the match against Germany Federal. The 'Flaco' refused to use the three lines in the sleeves of his clothing, which were one of the signs of identity. It was not a whim, but a rejection motivated by his current sponsor, Puma.
Both brands, Adidas and Puma, maintained a strong rivalry during that edition of the World Cup, not only for being German but for coming from the same family, the Dassler family.
In response to the controversy over Cruyff's Dutch shirt, the player himself later explained: "The Federation, at that time, negotiated with Adidas. They wanted us to wear their shirt, and I asked for my share (of the cake). They refused, saying the shirt was theirs, and I told them the head was mine. Then, throughout the World Cup (1974), I played with a shirt different from the rest.
This episode put an end to his involvement with his country's national team, after 48 games and scoring a total of 33 goals, participating in 33 of them as captain.