John Giles shares his memories of his only match against Johan Cruyff
Leeds and Ireland legend also chats to Off The Ball about his view of Total Football20:09 Thursday 24 March 2016, 20:09 24 Mar 2016
John Giles only got to share the field with Johan Cruyff once during his career with Leeds United and Ireland.
It was the first leg of the semi-final of the 1975 European Cup which Leeds won 2-1 against Cruyff's Barcelona en route to reaching that year's final against Bayern Munich.
"We knew what he could do," John told Off The Ball tonight, "But luckily enough for us, in that match at Elland Road, he restricted himself to playing on the left wing which was great for us because I always thought he was most dangerous where he could go wherever he wanted to and get on the ball in any position he wanted to on the pitch."
Spanish champions Barcelona, including Johan Cruyff (front row 2nd left),before the European Cup semi-final first leg against Leeds United st Elland rd. Picture by: PA / PA Archive/Press Association Images
"He was a great player. He was beautifully balanced on both sides, left foot, right foot, very quick, great footballing brain. He could get in a good position and knew exactly where he was and what was the most dangerous thing to do," John recalled.
John also recalled how quickly Dutch football rose from the doldrums of the 1950s to the pinnacle by the 1970s thanks to the Johan Cruyff Total Football generation, although he did not feel that it was stylistically revolutionary.
"Total Football. What exactly did that mean? It meant that the full-backs came into play but to be honest, we were doing that Leeds. Manchester United were doing it. But journalists and people in the media like to think this is different and 'we have to give it an extra other name,'" he said, adding that the 1953 Hungary were already applying Total Football concepts.
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