Speaking with El Periódico, the legendary Dutchman discussed the story behind his indirect penalty idea and the one performed by Messi last Sunday.

It was more than 33 years ago when Johan Cruyff did one of his most iconic plays: “One day when we’re winning 2-0, we try it,” he told his teammate Jesper Olsen in a training. “He was a lefty and being left-footed you can always do things such as this, they’re different, they have something especial. At first, he asked me if I had lost my mind but then he agreed and told me: ‘Ok, let’s do it’,” the Flying Dutchman proudly remembers that day in 1982 when he wrote one of the most unforgettable pages in football history.

Some time have passed since that moment but Cruyff recalls the play excitedly; they were winning 5-0 in a match against Helmond Sport: “I placed the ball on the penalty spot, and then I walked back as if I was going to rearrange it and prepare to shoot again, and then I made a short pass, Olsen passed it back to me and that was it, goal.” When Cruyff came up with the play, he hadn’t heard about two Belgians named Rik Coppen and Andre Piters, who were the first ones with a documented indirect penalty which happened in a qualifier for the 1958 World Cup.

The footage shows that the Helmond players were stunned as if they didn’t know what just happened: “Everybody was shocked. The referee came to me and ask: ‘Is this legal?’ ‘Of course it’s legal’, I said, ‘What have I done that is illegal? I moved the ball forward, he was out of the box and came running’. Afterwards, everybody was talking about the play, the press, the people, but all of them were asking the same question, if that was legal, if that goal was legit,” remembers Cruyff.

On Sunday night, Cruyff was delighted when Messi made him go back in time and that same scene was rewritten at the Camp Nou: “I was thrilled about what Messi did. I don’t know if he [Messi] had seen the penalty on television, maybe he did but if there’s someone who can pull off something like this, it’s him. I immediately realized people were talking about my penalty. It’s a joy that you’re remembered after so many years. It’s beautiful, these are the kind of things that football gives back to you,” the Dutchman confesses candidly.

In over 33 years no one has ever questioned if that penalty meant a lack of respect to the rivals, quite a contrast considering the debates taking place right now: “How can this be disrespectful? Back in those days, that idea never crossed anyone’s mind. It’s nonsense. We’re talking about football, something fun and different, and football is about this: Entertainment, it’s a game. And that’s what Messi does, he has fun on the pitch and entertains the fans. And how can it be disrespectful considering the great match Celta played? Being disrespectful is to not acknowledge that they played superbly, that Bravo was one of the best players and he saved two or three goals, and that up until that point Barça struggled in the match. When your rival plays as good as they did, that doesn’t mean you’re disrespecting them,” the former Barcelona coach concluded.

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