"1974 was actually very painful to us all," says Dutch psychoanalyst Anna Enquist. "We can't admit to ourselves that something can be so important. But it matters very much. There is still a deep, unresolved trauma about 1974. It's a very living pain, like an unresolved crime."
En Vincent zag het koren
En Einstein het getal
En Zeppelin de Zeppelin
En Johan zag de bal
(And Vincent saw the corn
And Einstein the number
And Zeppelin the Zeppelin
And Johan saw the ball)
--Dutch cabaret song
The intellectualisation of football has always foundered on a simple problem--the players. Doing all your most rewarding thinking with your feet seems to dull the philosophical impulse. Unless, of course, you are Dutch. According to legend, Europeans played a moronic, muscular version of the world's game, until Holland proclaimed its vision of total football in the 1974 World Cup, and enlightenment dawned.
In Brilliant Orange--the neurotic genius of Dutch football, journalist David Winner explores his personal fascination with the land that gave the world Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Johan Cruyff--searching for reasons why such a tiny country has produced some of football's most intelligent, enigmatic and unfulfilled teams.
Winter talks with the players, past and present--including Johnny Rep and Ruud Krol from the losing World Cup Final sides of 1974 and 1978--uncovering their personal experience of the public triumphs and disasters. But it is the breadth of his enquiry into what it may mean to be Dutch--reconciling a colonial past with a multi-cultural present; living with the memories of wartime occupation and collaboration; the tensions between a fiercely individualistic, libertarian spirit and the principles of communality--that makes this such an extraordinary and wonderful book. --Alex Hankin
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'Original and conventional ... Fascinating and individualistic, Brilliant Orange beguiles you like a Cruyff turn' The Times