"For me, he is the greatest athlete of all time."
Interview with Helmut Fischer about Track & Field legend Tommie Smith
It was the 1974 World Cup final between Holland and West football history. Germany. Both teams were outfitted by Adidas – something that one player in particular disliked. Dutch superstar Johan Cruyff. The captain of the Dutch team had an exclusive personal deal with PUMA. He just loved our King boots and felt closely connected to the PUMA brand. “Johan Cruyff has always been a PUMA player and refused to wear anything else”, remembers Helmut Fischer.
But what do you do when you are forced to wear an Adidas jersey and simply don’t want to? Well, you just rip off one stripe. Cruyff had his three-stripe shirt redone, so that it sported only two. And of course the shorts as well. “Back in the days, he could get away with that extra treatment but nowadays, I don’t think that he’d even be allowed to leave the dressing room.”
Even though Holland lost against Germany, a legend was born. Johan Cruyff was voted “Player of the Tournament” and won the prestigious “European Footballer of the Year” award for the third time in his career that year. He went on to become one of the most influential figures in football history – or as Helmut puts it: “With his style of play, his football philosophy and his rebellious spirit, Johan Cruyff was not only the perfect PUMA partner. He has inspired generations of footballers.”