Johan Cruyff is widely recognised as one of the greatest footballers of all time. It is somewhat of a surprise therefore that he won just 48 caps in an 11-year spell with the Dutch team. Cruyff had an ignominious start to his international career as, although he scored on his debut against Hungary, on his next appearance he became the first Dutch player to receive a red card.
His dismissal in a friendly against Czechoslovakia earned him a one-year suspension from the Dutch federation. Cruyff, one of the pioneers of 'total football', participated in only one FIFA World Cup™ tournament.
In 1974 he helped Holland to the Final, earning the penalty which saw them take the lead against West Germany before their opponents had even touched the ball. Nevertheless, the Netherlands lost the match 2-1.
Cruyff brought a premature end to his international career in 1977 at the age of 30, having successfully steered Holland through qualification for the the following FIFA World Cup. Despite numerous attempts to tempt him out of retirement, Cruyff did not add to his tally of 33 goals in 48 appearances - 33 of them as captain.
Cruyff revealed two years ago that one of the reasons he opted not to play in the 1978 FIFA World Cup was because his family had been involved in a kidnap attempt during the previous year.