10 football superstitions you should know about
#9 Johan Cruyff
Johan Cruyff wrote his name into football history and became one of the few men in the world synonymous with Dutch football. The former Ajax and Barcelona player embodied the “total football” style which guided Netherlands to a World Cup final, while the Cruyff turn remains to be one of the hardest skills to master for any footballer.
However, as great a football player he was, he was also utterly nuts and was dependent on a series of obsessional pre-match rituals, something he would have never tolerated as a coach and manager himself. Shortly before kick-off, he’d slap goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach and then walk over to the opposition half and proceed to spit his chewing gum towards their goal.
It seemed to have worked for him and he even said so: “It’s odd I know, but it seems to work for me,” he said. “Once I’ve gone through with my little system before the game, my mind is fully focused on what we have to do to be successful on the pitch."
However, during the 1969 European Cup final, Cruyff gave Bals his customary smack and then walked over towards the opposition half, to spit his gum. It was only then that the Dutchman realised that he’d forgotten to chew gum and Ajax ended up getting thrashed 4-1!