Johann Cruijff and Franz Beckenbauer, and this takes our breath away. Handshake and pennants exchange at each other’s faces. Around the air is warm and suspended. On the pitch and on the stands of the Olympiastadion there is adrenaline and tension. Seventy-five thousand spectators. Munich, West Germany, 7 July 1974, 4.00 pm, is the final of the World Cup between the hosts of Germany and the Netherlands of totaalvoetbal, the total football.
A football that is being transformed, with constancy and progression. It is not just a matter of tactics and modules. Media attention, image, sponsor. Players who now have a second “utility” and, even if it is a slap to the nostalgic purists a bit clouded, even and already 40 years ago, the major sports companies had understood that through the sport, through football you could make money.
And to think good the young Ajax and Holland, idol of a losing generation, but with eyes in love, wore perfectly the role of modern icon. He was the watershed with modern football. Unique because it will succeed in the decades to preserve and conserve a mythological and pure aura, although underneath he had precise contractual “commitments”.
We all remeber, from the club to the national team, his number 14: Cruijff tied himself to the shirt number, the first to come out with “arrogance” from the consolidated and old schemes of “one to eleven”. The FcBarcelona, more rigid, instead imposed the classic numbering: he accepted the 9, but under the camiseta blaugrana, always wore a shirt with his number. Elegant, damn elegant, able to challenge Cronus in the fight against eternity, he “the Prophet of the goal” became a image-man. In 1971, when the French magazine France Football handed him the Golden Ball inning against Mazzola and Best (he won two more in ’73 -’74), Johan showed up at the ceremony to collect the prize wearing a dress signed Puma and with the logo in good view.
And he was testimonial of the German company also during the aforementioned World Cup in West Germany. So we get to the final, we get a picture of the handshake between the Dutch with a bewitching tuft and the Kaiser. Holland and West Germany, both sponsored by Adidas who rubbed their hands for the international media outlook. But it does not take an expert in the cross word puzzle to notice a striking difference: the Dutch captain’s shirt had a black strip less than the canonical three, unmistakable mark of Adidas.
The shiny orange, then, certainly didn’t help. Dirtied by a long and old family feud that later became entrepreneurial: an internal war between the brothers Adolf and Rudi Dassler, a father of Adidas and the other of Puma, and who split into two Herzogenaurach, a German village that saw two of the more powerful brands in the sports sector. In the 1974 final, the feud moved to Cruijff, an attractive symbol of the world championship, and on the third strip on his shirt. Unstitched. The Dutch 14 is a Puma’s man, don’t touch him.
After all, the two brands had already chosen a precise line: Adidas focused on partnerships with National candidates for success, Puma was aiming at the feet of the players. Four years before there was another battle: the object to contend was, of course, Pelé. Shortly before the 1970 World Championships in Mexico, Horst and Armin, the successors of Adolf and Rudolf, entered into a non-belligerent pact with which they mutually agreed not to offer a sponsorship contract to “O Rey”. How did it end? Well you have to judge by yourself …
The same article of the author is on Mondiali.it: