Dutch legend Johan Cruyff claims a kidnap attempt, in which he says a rifle was held to his head, was instrumental in his decision to miss the 1978 World Cup.
Cruyff said the incident occurred the previous year, when he was nearing the end of a five-year spell with Barcelona.
Cruyff’s decision to miss the 1978 World Cup has long been attributed to his reluctance to his dislike of the military junta that controlled Argentina at the time, but the three-time European Footballer of the Year has now revealed that it was the kidnap attempt that unsettled him.
“To play a World Cup you have to be 200 percent,” Cruyff told Catalunya Radio on Tuesday.
“I had a rifle at my head, I was tied up, my wife tied up, the children were in the apartment in Barcelona. There are moments when there are other values in life.”
Cruyff didn’t say why his family was targeted or how the kidnap attempt failed. He told the radio station that police guarded his house for four months and escorted his children to school.
Holland reached the final in 1978, losing 3-1 to host Argentina. Four years earlier, Cruyff led his country to its first World Cup final, going down 2-1 to hosts West Germany.