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How to Master the Cruyff Turn in 2021?

It is quite rare in football that a man becomes synonymous with a particular move. However, what Dutch legend Johan Cruyff did in a World Cup game against Sweden in 1974 so stunned the watching world that the trick will always be associated with him. 

In the 23rd minute, the forward received the ball with defender Jan Olson tightly man-marking him. However, with a quick swivel, Cruyff and the ball went one way, and the hapless Olson another.  And, to prove it was no fluke, he performed the same move in a match against England later that same year.  

Even to this day, whenever a player pulls off a similar manoeuvre, the commentator will say that he or she has performed a Cruyff turn.  

Who was Johan Cruyff?

Widely regarded as one of the finest players of all times, he became renowned as an exponent of “total football”, a fluid style of play in which every outfield player on the pitch is comfortable on the ball and can play in every position. He was part of the Ajax side that won the Dutch league six times and the European Cup for three successive years, before transferring to Barcelona, where he not only guided them to their first league title in 14 years but also gave them an identity that they retain to this day.

He went on to manage Barcelona, and laid the foundations for their ticky-tacky style that dominated Spanish and European football in the first part of this century, and was copied successfully by the Spain national side. 

Cruyff captained Holland to the 1974 World Cup final, but they lost to West Germany, despite being the better team for much of the match. 

He sadly died in 2016 but his memory lives on today, a sporting icon in both his native Netherlands and in Catalonia, the part of Spain where Barcelona is located.

What is a Johan Cruyff turn?

Simply put the manoeuvre involves receiving the ball on the instep, usually with their back towards goal. A player feints to play a pass to a teammate, but then swivels through 180 degrees, transferring their weight to the other foot and rotating their shoulders, fooling an opponent into believing they are heading in the opposite direction.

To execute a Cruyff turn a player needs to be comfortable with the ball and be very agile. They also need to have speed to break away. And above all, they need confidence in their ability to pull off the Johan Cruyff turn. Not many have the nerve to attempt such a move let alone the technique to pull it off. 

The Need for Practice

Whilst you can find online videos on how to do a Cruyff turn, it is by no means as easy as it looks to execute. It takes literally hours of practice to perfect. Applying the trick in a live game is another thing altogether. You must be aware of your surrounding and be certain there is space to pull it off. 

At Samba Soccer Schools, we teach the Cruyff turn to our children and have watched dozens pull it off. And it looks pretty cool!

Check out our skills tutorial here.



Even Pelé, not only the greatest player in the history of Brazilian football but, in the eyes of many, the best that has played the game, says that Cruyff was so good he could have lined-up alongside him in the famous yellow shirts of the national team.

Cruyff Turn FAQs

What is a Cruyff Turn?

The Cruyff turn is a manoeuvre made famous by the captain of the Dutch national side in the 1974 World Cup finals Johan Cruyff. It is a move designed to enable a forward to escape the attentions of a tight marking defender and involves a sudden change of direction, wrong-footing an opponent.

When executed properly, it is one of the most exciting and exhilarating moves that can be performed on a football field. 

Who invented the Cruyff turn?

Although the turn is named after Johan Cruyff, he cannot claim to have invented it. Such manoeuvres had been known before in different parts of the world under a variety of names. 

However, what Cruyff did during a World Cup match against Sweden in 1974 was the first time that a player had attempted such a move before a global television audience of hundreds of millions, and it has borne his name ever since.

How do you do a Cruyff turn?

There are several steps involved in completing a Cruyff turn.

  1. In the first place, a player needs to receive the ball and then position the ball in front of their preferred foot, left or right.
  2. They then need to shape the body as if they are about to kick the ball, transferring the weight to the standing foot.
  3. Instead, in a sudden movement, the ball needs to be dragged back behind the standing foot, whilst the shoulders are turned at the same time.
  4. The final stage is to accelerate away from the defender, who hopefully will still be looking the other way.

How can you learn the Johan Cruyff turn?

In the first place you can go on YouTube to watch the great man in action, such as here:


And there are many online tutorials you can follow as well.

However, whilst these will teach you the basics, the best way to learn how to perform a Cruyff Turn is to undergo proper training at an accredited soccer school, such as Samba Soccer Schools. Here trained and qualified coaches can teach your children how to perform a range of stunning tricks and skills, whilst ensuring they have fun at the same time. Call 020 7205 2723!

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