The nation credited with inventing 'Total Football' Holland turned the game into a science without losing any of the flair or skill that makes football so exciting. After years in the wilderness the Netherlands came up with an entirely new system of play in the Seventies and have been a force in world football ever since.
The fluid system which allowed players to swap positions at will was the brainchild of coach Rinus Michels and helped Holland to qualify for the World Cup in 1974, their first since 1938. That year they made it to the final beating the likes of Brazil and Argentina along the way with the help of the greatest exponent of the new system, Johan Cruyff. West Germany edged the final, coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 but the Dutch had put themselves firmly on the map.
Four years later they found themselves back in the World Cup final even without star player Cruyff. Again they faced the tournament hosts, this time Argentina, and again they were on the losing side. The game went to extra time after the Dutch missed a golden opportunity to win it in 90 minutes. The Argentines ran out 3-1 winners in the end.
Holland finally found success in 1988 when they won the European Championships with a new crop of highly talented players and the return of Michels as coach. Marco van Basten was the star of the tournament and ended up as top-scorer. In the final against USSR he scored the most famous goal in European Championships history, an amazing volley from the tightest of angles.
In recent years the team have failed to live up to the potential of their hugely talented players. They are now entering a new era after Van Basten stepped down as coach to be replaced by Bert van Marwijk.