West Germany 2-1 Netherlands
7 July 1974
World Cup Final
Olympiastadion, Munich
Scorers: Breitner (pen), Muller (West Germany); Neeskens (pen) (Netherlands)

Euro champions West Germany took on UFWC champions the Netherlands in this 1974 World Cup climax. The Netherlands had entered the tournament unbeaten in 14 UFWC matches, and retained the title all the way to the final. The Dutch were all about total football – pioneered by coach Rinus Michels, and personified by captain Johan Cruyff.

Cruyff was named European Footballer of the Year three times, but the UFWC was the only international title he won in his 48 games for his country. A difficult genius, Cruyff ruined the Dutch squad’s unique alphabetic numbering system for the 1974 tournament by demanding to wear his trademark number 14 shirt. The Puma-sponsored star also refused to wear Adidas’s trademark three stripes on his shirtsleeves, playing in a specially altered two-stripe kit. Lining up alongside Cruyff in brilliant orange were the likes of Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep and Ruud Krol.

While the Dutch practised free-flowing total football, the formidable Germans favoured a more guarded mobile sweeper system. Hosts West Germany also had the crowd on their side, not to mention the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller.

Kick-off in soccer’s showpiece final was delayed for several minutes as groundstaff in the Olympiastadion had neglected to set up corner flags. But when play finally got underway, West Germany didn’t seem ready. Indeed, the Netherlands took the lead before a German player touched the ball. Cruyff strolled from his own half through the German defence and into the penalty area, only to be scythed down by Uli Hoeness. Ref Jack Taylor awarded a penalty, causing German libero Beckenbauer to point out, quite accurately, ‘You’re an Englishman!’ The Dutch penalty-taker was the deadly Neeskens, who dispatched the ball into the centre of the goal with minimum fuss.

It was a very early kick in the teeth for the Germans, but they stuck to their patient gameplan – and it paid off 25 minutes later. Bernd Holzenbein squeezed into the Dutch penalty area and was challenged rather innocuously by Wim Jansen. Holzenbein went down like a sniper had taken him out. Jack Taylor again pointed to the spot. Had Beckenbauer’s earlier comment persuaded Taylor to ‘even the score’? Regardless, Paul Breitner buried the penalty – after Cruyff instructed keeper Jan Jongbloed to dive in the wrong direction.

West Germany had the initiative, and just before half-time they had the lead. Muller turned in the box, and knocked the ball past the static Jongbloed. It was Muller’s 14th World Cup goal, making him the tournament’s all-time top goalscorer. The Dutch were rattled. As the half-time whistle blew Cruyff, took his turn at berating ref Taylor, and was booked for his indiscretion. The Netherlands regrouped after the break and piled pressure on the German goal, but to no avail. The game ended 2-1 to West Germany.

The final whistle was greeted with delirium from the home fans. The Germans had reclaimed the World Cup, reclaimed the UFWC title, and unified both titles as undisputed official and unofficial world champions. Adding the European Championships to the mix, West Germany became the first team in history to unify the WC, UFWC and EC titles. A respectful nod should be made, however, in the direction of the Netherlands, who took the UFWC title on a remarkable unbeaten run into the WC tournament and all the way to the final – the first team ever to do so – before being stopped in their tracks.

But it was West Germany who were presented with the brand new FIFA World Cup trophy, the earlier Jules Rimet trophy having been handed permanently to three-time winners Brazil. The Germans held off UFWC challengers Switzerland, Greece, and Malta in subsequent months, then, in March 1975, played out a UFWC rematch with England – and lost 2-0.

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We’re presenting a series of UFWC World Cup Classics in the build-up to Brazil 2014. The above is an edited extract from the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions, which contains many more classic matches from the UFWC archives. The brand new 2014 edition is out now.

New UFWC book

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.