“For the children who were here, it was bullshit, apotheosis”, sighs Jordi, son of the Masies de Voltregà (Osona), returning, down memory lane, to the afternoon of September 5, 1973, one of the happiest of his childhood. With 13 years experienced the debut of Johan Cruyff with Barça live, sitting among his grandparents in the Camp Nou stands. 75,000 people witnessed the friendly against the Circle Brugesorganized because the Dutchman, Ballon d’Or in 1971 and 1973, winner of the Champions League in 1971, 1972 and 1973 with Ajax, began to acclimatize to his new team faced with the impossibility of making an official debut due to bureaucratic hurdles.
On the evening of the debut he admitted that his only concern was “satisfying the members and supporters of Barça”. And he complied, because Barça, chaired by Agustí Montal and directed by Rinus Michelswon by 6-0 with doubles from Cruyff and Juanito and goals from Laredo i Rexach. “I want to point out that the fans have not yet seen the real Cruyff. No, no. I think I have only given half of my possibilities,” he said after the match: “The dream of my life has been fulfilled “.
In the preview he had asked for “patience” from the fans, “not to think that everything will be Cruyff arriving and the triumphs coming”. but indeed it went like this. He could not make his debut until October 28with the team 14th and one point away from relegation. But then everything suddenly changed: Barça goes beating Granada 4-0 with another double from Cruyff and he would not lose again until he had already been crowned champion, with five days of margin and with a 0-5 in Madrid in the middle. The club’s longest La Liga drought was broken: 14 years.
Juan Manuel Asensi, the captain of the Basel Cup Winners’ Cup (1979), the current president of the Players’ Association, remarks that the first time he saw him play he was “totally shocked, impressed”. “It was a wonder, different. His arrival was like when you are in a room that has been closed for a long time and you open the window and a fresh air that changes everything. It was a terrible upheaval. It changed us all. We all believed Cruyff“, assures Asensi.
“We were people from the village and the number one model of the house of Dior came to us: a tall, thin, handsome, with her long hair. I thought: ‘This is the wafer. It has everything. In addition to being a good player, he has all the weapons to succeed in any field‘”, add.
Seconds Jose Maria Laredopresident from 1972 to 1974, his arrival was a collective liberation: “All eyes were on him, all responsibility and attraction. He was the epicenter of everything and that liberated us: he came out the pressure that has always been there at Barça, the ache, ache, ache, the nerves and anxieties that hold you back. And the desire to run, to enjoy, set in. We played calm, relaxed, happy. Barça had very good players, but he arrived and they all exploded. The team became one score and win machine. He had one psychological effect very big.” He speaks of a charismatic and intelligent leader, a person with a halo.
He gave the team so much confidence that, on the way to Camp Nou, Martial he would open the coach window, stick his head out and shout: “Here comes the London Philharmonic”. He remembers it Salvador Sadurní, the goalkeeper with the most years in history at Barça: “We went with incredible morale”. He also explains that Cruyff went down to his area to collect the ball and start the play. That they called him “urban” because he directed his companions by gesticulating and pointing with the arms “He had lions in his pocket: I never paid anything“.
Laredo continues, between laughs: “I remember that Fosforera Española took out some match boxes with our name and our photo and we didn’t see a duro. It was the usual, but all that changed with him too. We go from receiving a key chain to receiving money.” He points out that Cruyff paid for each interview, although at the time, according to the newspaper, the then secretary of Barça denied “the news that assured that the Dutch player was paid 40,000 pesetas for every interview he did”. “With him everything changed. He revolutionized football. Both on the field and off. On the field he saw things before they happened. He was an exceptional player. Sensational,” says Laredo.
Installed concludes: “What we live with the Skinny it was imprinted on the memory for a lifetime. We have been his colleagues and friends and on top of that we have been champions by his side. It was the best footballer in the world at that time. He made us champions and opened our eyes to many things.” He has a photo next to him at home, in a frame on a table: “It’s from the day we won the League title in El Molinón (Gijón ). I leave hugging him. I think every player we’ve been with Johan has a picture with him, for sure. Although when they ask me if I played with Cruyff I always say no, that Cruyff played with me, because I was already here when he arrived.” And he laughs.
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