Van Praag, president of Ajax, received several Spanish journalists in the cafeteria of the club's sports city. They were just a few minutes of talk when Cruyff appeared, sat a few tables away, ordered a beer and started smoking, so quiet. My colleagues were surprised, and they asked Van Praag.
– Everyone here is free to do whatever they want. With tobacco, with sex, with alcohol. We trust in your ability to control yourself.
Everything was extraordinary in Ajax at that time. He came from winning the previous two European Cups, he was the Intercontinental champion and, above all, he was pure vanguard. But the most of the most was Cruyff, whose wayward side appeared soon. In the recent quarterfinals he had refused to travel to Munich. Ajax had won 4-0 in the first leg and for the return Cruyff claimed an injury that the doctors did not see. Kovacs, the coach, quoted him, but did not show up. Cruyff had discussions with Van Praag about the use of trademarks.
Another club, another country, another world. Everything about Ajax was amazing in that Spain of 1973, with Franco still alive and with that austere Madrid, of players so "whatever Don Santiago says", willingly submitted to a life of monks-soldiers.
It was already seven years without winning the European Cup. They would be 32, but then nobody thought about it. Now there was illusion, with a team that was still under the ban to sign foreigners, but that had several of the national figures: Zoco, Pirri, Amancio, Velázquez … plus a young goalkeeper, García Remón, of stellar appearance. In the quarterfinals he had played a prodigious game in Odessa, against Dynamo Kyiv, in which Blokhin already appeared. Now he played Ajax in the semifinals.
Molowny traveled to spy on Ajax-Twente, who won Ajax 1-0. He saw the team fast, but not very technical, and with a reluctant Cruyff. Of course Madrid came to draw at home with Betis.
"They are free to do whatever they want. With tobacco, with sex, with alcohol ", said the president of the Dutch club
On April 11, 1973, the Amsterdam Olympic is boating, with 70,000 spectators, of which 10,000 are Spanish. Al Ajax is missing Gerrie Muhren, but the rest of the team is the luxury one: Stuy; Stuurbier, Hulshoff, Blankenburg, Krol; Haan, Neeskens, Schilcher (for Muhren); Rep, Cruyff and Keizer. The Madrid goes with García Remón; José Luis, Benito, Zoco, Touriño; Grande, Pirri, Velázquez; Amancio, Santillana and Aguilar.
Madrid plays cautiously. García Remón, against whom 20 corners are launched, is very good. Rest is still 0-0. In the 67th minute, there is a lack on the area that Hulshoff, unmarked, finishes easily. In 77, there is an indirect in the area of Madrid, a rare play. Cruyff was getting in the way of García Remón's serves; Benito got fed up, went to obstruct Cruyff so that he did not reach García Remón, and they gave him an indirect whistle. Keizer pulled it out for Krol, who let loose a terrible cannon shot. Goal. That smelled like gunpowder, but in one of his rare escapades Madrid got a foul near the area. Amancio plays for Pirri, who scores a great goal. Then, the team closes even more, García Remón makes three stops and the thing ends 2-1.
The return is on the 25th, the same day that Cruyff turns 26. The Ajax is installed in Eurovillas, where we paraded a trail of journalists. They are fascinated by those long-haired ones, who are accompanied by girlfriends, who drink or smoke naturally. A generation beatle. On Saturday, Madrid lost in Sarriá and, worse, lost to Santillana, after a blow with De Felipe that damaged his kidney. That was about to cost him the race, because it was discovered that he had all the kidney mass on one side, and it was considered dangerous to play like that.
Muñoz did not have a clear substitute. He cited Marañón, an attacker with a goal, but decided to put Pirri in that position, and Gonzalez, a squad player, in the middle next to Grande and Velázquez. It did not work The average of Ajax, already with Gerrie Muhren, took over the field and the ball. The defense of Madrid and García Remón resisted until 49, when a shot from outside, just Gerrie Muhren, brushed in Benito, which nullified the effort of García Remón. 0-1. It was fair. Madrid had a arreón of 15 minutes, but that flame went out. There was no game to keep it. Ajax reached its third final, which would win consecutively. We left the Bernabéu with the evidence that we lived another era.