The official website for European football

Cruyff hails new dawn

Published: Saturday 21 June 2008, 3.00CET
Johan Cruyff says this Oranje team is just beginning to fulfil their potential.
by Berend Scholten & Christian Martin
from Vevey
Cruyff hails new dawn

This content is streamed in such a way that it is protected and available only in a Flash format. Your device seems not to be compatible with our Flash video player.

Switch to HTML5 versionSwitch to flash version
Published: Saturday 21 June 2008, 3.00CET

Cruyff hails new dawn

Johan Cruyff says this Oranje team is just beginning to fulfil their potential.

Despite their highly impressive performances at UEFA EURO 2008™, Netherlands legend Johan Cruyff believes the current crop of Oranje players have only just started to fulfil their potential.

Still developing
The Dutchman, considered one of the sport's all-time greats, is excited by the progress of Marco van Basten's side through the competition but feels even greater strides can be made. "These players are still young enough to grow further," Cruyff told "They are between 22 and 26 years old, not at the peak of their careers, but not young – they are somewhere in the middle. They have got the opportunity and now the question is, can they take it to the next level?"

Quality in abundance
The Netherlands impressed with their youthful vigour as they emerged from the so-called 'Group of Death' with a 100 per cent record, but Cruyff knows the squad has much more to it than pure enthusiasm. "When you see the qualities of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben – they are all players capable of doing something special in a match and that is an exceptional quality," the 61-year-old said. "Then they have produced these results. Results together with quality. You have to look at these two aspects combined."

Total football
Cruyff played with Oranje coach Van Basten at AFC Ajax during a two-year spell in the early 1980s, when the pair were at opposite ends of their careers. The two then worked together when Cruyff became the Amsterdam club's coach in 1985, achieving success in Europe by winning the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1987. "Van Basten had his big glory in his twenties at EURO '88," said the former FC Barcelona coach, who thinks the 43-year-old is reintroducing the 'total football' brand of play he also enjoyed with the Dutch national side. "He's now in charge and it looks like he is bringing back the style of play that he himself was taught. If you look at the players, they are all technically gifted and don't wait for the opponent to impose themselves. They go out and grab the opportunity themselves. Sometimes you lose – bad luck – but I like the approach, I like the attitude."

Physical disadvantage
Looking ahead to Saturday's quarter-final in Basel, Cruyff reckons Russia could take some advantage from the timing of their domestic season. "The Russian league started in March while all the others ended in May. This means having six or seven months' worth of games in your legs at the end of the season, while for them it is only the beginning. So, physically, they are fitter," explained the erstwhile forward, who admires the way Dutchman Guus Hiddink's team performs. "I like the way they play, the high-speed passing, but they sometimes do not have quite the right balance. The Netherlands have quality – they just have to go out and do their best – you can't ask for more than that."

Last updated: 21/06/08 1.30CET features

UEFA & FARE network unite to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility
  • UEFA & FARE network unite to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility
  • Luís Figo joins UEFA as Football Advisor
  • UEFA launches anti-doping reporting platform
  • #EqualGame focus at London sports business summit
  • 2017 UEFA Grassroots Awards winners unveiled
  • Grassroots gold goes to Northern Irish club
  • ‘Football gives you freedom’: Hungarian blind footballer stars in UEFA’s #EqualGame campaign
  • Keeping competitive balance - Aleksander Čeferin
  • 13th Extraordinary UEFA Congress decisions
  • UEFA launches new #EqualGame adverts starring Hegerberg, Messi, Pogba, Ronaldo & amateur players
1 of 10