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Cruyff: Kidnap Attempt Kept Me Out Of Fifa WC '78

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For almost three decades it was assumed that the Dutch legendary 'Total Footballer' Johan Cruyff missed the Fifa 1978 World Cup final stage in protest against Argentina’s military regime of that time. But that wasn’t the actual reason behind his decision…

In an interview with Spanish Catalunya Ràdio, the Dutch icon revealed that he and his family had been kept at gun point by kidnappers in Barcelona the previous year, and that that incident urged him not to travel to the South American country at all.

More To Life Than Football

“To play a World Cup you have to be 200 percent,” Cruyff said. “Someone came and pointed a rifle at my head and tied up both me and my wife, while the children were in the flat.”

“There are times when there are more important things in life... For four months my home was watched by the police and my children had to be protected when they went to school.”

La Piscine

Cruyff suddenly retired from the Dutch national side in October ’77, although he’d helped them qualify for the World Cup final stage. His relationship with the KNVB bosses at the time was indeed going through the motions, although many people thought the famous “Swimming Pool” incident had also played a key role in his decision to quit.

This had taken place three years earlier, when several Oranje players were allegedly accompanied by women in a hotel pool, during the ’74 World Cup final stage held in the former West Germany. Cruyff’s name was also involved and his wife, Danny, reportedly forbid him to travel to Argentina.

Cruyff was a key figure in the Dutch side that where beaten 2-1 by the hosts in the ’74 final, in Munich, also named Player of the Tournament. Even without him, the Oranje again made the Buenos Aires final in ’78, only to be beaten 3-1 after extra time by Argentina, incidently again the home side.

The Quini Kidnapping

Even though he failed to reveal how the attempt was foiled, Cruyff left Barcelona a few months later, before going back as a coach in ’88. That was seven years after another Barça star, Quini, was kidnapped and held to ransom until rescued by policemen 25 days later.
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