The defender who was first mesmerised by the 'Cruyff turn' says it was the best moment of his 18-year career


The defender who first fell victim to Johan Cruyff’s infamous “Cruyff turn” has admitted his red-faced moment still makes him laugh almost 42 years on.

Sweden defender Jan Olsson was the “other half” of one of football’s most iconic moments when Cruyff unveiled his mesmeric turn during the 1974 World Cup.

Cruyff has lost his battle with cancer aged 68, but the memories he left during a storied career will always remain.

Certainly, Olsson retains nothing but affection for the Dutch master, and revealed the thought of that day at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund still brings a smile to his face.

“My team-mates after the game, we looked at each other, they started to laugh and I do the same,” Olsson said.

Johann Cruyff against Sweden at the 1974 World Cup

“I laughed then and I laugh now. It was very funny. He was a world-class player. I do my best but I was not a world-class player.

“The players in my team, they all laugh because they know me – we laughed together in the changing room because everyone saw what a player he was. What more could we do?”

As news of Cruyff’s death filtered through, social media was flooded with repeating video clips of the turn. Olsson has seen it many times but is still left surprised.

“I do not understand how he did it. It was a fantastic sequence,” Olsson said.

“I thought I was going to take the ball. I still cannot understand. Now when I see the video, every time I think I have got the ball.

“When he is about to kick the ball I am sure I am going to take it, but every time he surprises me. I loved everything about this moment.”

It was the first of four times Olsson faced Cruyff, another meeting coming later in 1974 when Holland thrashed Sweden 5-1 in Stockholm and Cruyff scored the opening goal.

The other two occasions were at club level, with Olsson playing for Swedish club Atvidabergs against Barcelona in the European Cup, but he never forgot his first encounter.

“After that first time every moment he got the ball I thought ‘please, don’t do it again’,” Olsson said.

Johan Cruyff
(Bruno Gonzalez/AP/PA)

“I think I knew at the time it would become a famous moment. Many people after tell me, ‘do it with me, the sequence with Johan Cruyff’.

“Many people say that and I do the same because I am very proud to have been there. My parents remembered this sequence.

“I played football at the top for 18 years and never experienced anything like it.”

Johan Cruyff
(Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport)

Olsson admits he wishes he had asked for Cruyff’s shirt, but he kept no other memorabilia from the game.

“I don’t have any photos or anything. I don’t want them,” Olsson said. “I remember everything in my heart. Everything from that match is in my mind and my heart. I have the memory.

“It is a moment I remember every day. Every day I think about football, I think about Johan Cruyff. I had the pleasure to meet him – a great player, great trainer, great gentleman, I think he had everything.”