Before the Premier League and multi-million pound salaries, in England 'football' was a dirty word. The game was in disgrace, the fans, hooligans, the nation, it seemed, were all played out... See full summary »
Rebecca Marie Burnett,
Okay, cards on the table, Johan Cruyff is probably about the second best footballer I've ever seen, behind the late, great George Best. Ironically Cruyff came to world prominence around 1972, just when Best tragically imploded, also in 1972 and retired from top-flight football at age 26. Cruyff, unusually for great players, went on however to become, for a time, a very successful coach of his beloved Barcelona, the only other equivalents being perhaps Franz Beckenbauer at Bayern Munich and Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool. This offbeat documentary attempts to portray the love and devotion of Barcelona fans for Cruyff and in a rewarding extended interview which closes the film, the man himself discussing his life and work.
For me, the scenes where Cruyff himself is on the screen, whether in archive footage displaying his fantastic skills or the revealing interview where he talks of the effect on his psyche of the loss of both his natural father and succeeding stepfather before their times, are the best. The interviews with the "superfans" however, with each recreating a "magic moment" from the maestro's career are quirky but ultimately overlong and too sycophantic - one woman appears never to have gotten over her childhood crush for Cruyff and consequently never married...too far, as we say here! I also notice no-one was up to recreating the Cruyff-turn from the 1974 World Cup! The film does entertain however, is certainly watchable and football fans will enjoy it, but I could have done with more actual footage on the great man's sporting exploits and a little more digging into the more controversial aspects of his career, particularly his refusal to go the World Cup in 1978 (where he would surely have made the difference and won the cup with his team) and a more balanced summary of his reasons for leaving Barca in 1996.
All told then, a film of two halves, which if not quite taking me over the moon, certainly didn't leave me sick as a parrot (how's that for using up my dictionary of stock football clichés!).
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