Before The Cruyff Turn,There Was… Eulogio
Lemme start, by asking you a question. To commemorate the one year death anniversary of the great, inimitable, enigmatic, legendary Johan Cruyff. Heard of the “Cruyff Turn” right? Of course, you know all about it. How Cruyff invented it. This is how the story goes.
1974 World Cup match versus Sweden was when we first witnessed the birth of the Cruyff Turn, a feint so slick and immaculate, it could turn the best of defenders into absolute shambles. Cruyff first performed it against the Swede right back, Jan Olsson. Having been pushed to the touchline, Cruyff looked to pass or cross the ball. Instead of kicking it, he dragged the ball behind his planted foot with the inside of his crossing foot, turned through 180 degrees, and accelerate away from the defender. Outwitted, Olsson remained rooted to where he was, as the flying dutchman dallied towards the gaping goal.
The world had seen the birth of one of the greatest skills known to man. It had witnessed one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport, era-defining in magnitude and significance, as it would go on to shape the outlook of millions of footballers in the future. The move was soon widely copied by other players around the world. It remains one of the most commonly used dribbling tricks in the modern game. The legend of Johan Cruyff was born and with him, the rise of the mighty Oranje. Funny, how fate plays itself out. So vulnerable we are to our ignorance. Another name sighed away silently, in ignominy. Lost in the dunes of time, was a name never heard of. Never spoken of again.
The year was 1960. Fourteen years before the birth of the Cruyff Turn. The man himself was still a thirteen-year-old fledgeling running around in the training facilities of the Ajax youth academy. Serenity. A young kid unaware of the great destiny that awaited him. Meanwhile, across the sea, a match was going on, some thousand miles away.
A European Cup match between Barcelona and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The mighty Wolves of the great Billy Wright versus an up and coming Blaugrana, led by the great Sandor Kocsis. Molineux, home to the English side, had already established an electric atmosphere. A poster in the crowd read “Put Up The Wolves”. Tensions on end, the energy inside the arena, emphatic.
Ninety minutes later, Wolves had been outplayed in their own backyard by the Spanish giants, five goals to two, led by a brace from the Mighty Magyar. However, one man really stood out among his peers, Eulogio Martinez. A constant thorn for the Wolverhampton defence throughout the game, he was menacing, to say the least. But that was not what makes him a part of history. Albeit, in the backpages now.
Heavy marking duties had been levied upon him. Do not give him any breathing space, were the strict directions for the Wolves defenders, about the Spanish forward. But that wasn’t enough to prevent him from weaving one moment of magic that turned the game on its head.
Having been pushed to the touchline, he turned around and went sideways with the ball, with the defender accompanying him on every step. After a couple of dilly-dallying to and fro, to the utter dismay of the defender, Martinez pulled the ball behind with his trailing leg and pushed it beyond the defender and with a swift turn, swirled around the hapless defender, and off he went. The Martinez Turn. Twelve years before Johan had reproduced it against Sweden, as the world awed.
Silently, the parchment crumbles. On the auspicious yet sad day marking the death anniversary of Cruyff, we recall from memory the Cruyff Turn. A piece of art, isn’t it? Lost in a time warp, the record keeper’s journal had a page ripped out. A fitting eulogy for the Spanish maverick they called Martinez? We. Remember. 🙂