Blessed with the likes of Rudi Krol, Rob Rensenbrink, Johan Neeskens and Johan Cruyff, the Dutch were favoured to win their first ever World Cup title. Things looked good in the early going as Johan Cruyff won a penalty in the second minute and Neeskens made no mistake from the spot to give the Dutch an early lead.
The Germans fought back however and won a penalty of their own with Paul Breitner making no mistake from 12 yards out. The Germans then took the lead courtesy of Gerd Muller. The Dutch attacked frantically in the second half but couldn't find their way past the German defence earning them the distinction of being the best team to never win the World Cup.
Jan Jongbloed (Goalkeeper)
The mobile goalkeeper was plying his trade in the Eredivisie for FC Amsterdam during the 1974 tournament and remained there until 1977. He backstopped the Netherlands to another appearance in the World Cup finals in 1978, but was once again on the losing side.
He enjoyed stints at Roda JC and Go Ahead Eagles before calling it quits on his playing career in 1986. He joined up with Vitesse in 1988 and worked in numerous roles including youth team trainer, assistant manager and interim manager with the Arnhem based club. He retired this summer after 50 years in the game. He still holds the record for most appearances in the Eredevisie at 707.
Ruud Krol (Defender)
One of the most versatile defenders of his day, he spent most of his career with Ajax and was a member of the Amsterdam outfit during the 1974 World Cup featuring as a left-back and playing in every single minute of all seven games.
He captained the Dutch squad during their run to the final four years later in Argentina as a sweeper. He left his boyhood club in 1980 for an adventure overseas with Canadian outfit Vancouver Whitecaps before returning to Europe one year later with Napoli in Serie A and then Cannes in France.
He hung up his boots in 1986 and parleyed his successful playing career with a host of managerial jobs with his stint in Egypt with Zamalek his most successful to date. Nowadays you can find him patrolling the touchline in South Africa for the Orlando Pirates.
Wim Rijsbergen (Defender)
The defensive stalwart stayed with Feyenoord for four more years after the defeat to the Germans in Munich in 1974. He made the switch to French side Bastia but only lasted one season there before making the trek to North America to play with the New York Cosmos in 1979.
He teamed up in New York with compatriot Johan Neeskens and was even a team-mate of old foe Franz Beckenbauer in the Big Apple. He made his way back to Holland with Utrecht and called it a day in 1986.
He then took up coaching and became somewhat of a journeyman as he managed teams in Ecuador and Saudi Arabia before taking the reins of the Trinidad and Tobago national team after the World Cup in 2006. Soon after accepting the job he was suspended for six months and eventually fired for allegedly trading blows with one of the team’s technical directors.
Wim Suurbier (Defender)
The lightening quick defender manned the backline for the Twelve Apostles of Ajax in the 1970s. After the loss to Germany in '74 he played with the Amsterdam outfit for three more seasons before consecutive one-year stays with Schalke and Monaco.
Like so many of his Dutch team-mates he left for North America and bounced around from team to team in the Major Indoor Soccer League eventually ending his playing career with the team aptly named the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
He opted to stay in the US preferring the sun-drenched states of California and Florida while coaching six different teams in the MISL ending his coaching career with the St. Petersburg Kickers in 1994. He then ended up on the bench for the Albanian national team for their qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup. He is currently employed as a scouting assistant for Manchester United.
Arie Haan (Midfielder)
The Ajax midfielder left the club one year after the bitter defeat to Germany in 1974 for Belgian outfit Anderlecht. He enjoyed a successful six-year stint with the side, hoisting the European Cup Winners’ Cup on two occasions.
He then left for rivals Standard Liege before moving home to Holland with PSV in 1983. He ended his playing career with Hong Kong club Seiko in 1985. He then tried his hand in coaching and racked up his frequent flier miles by taking the helm of over 15 different clubs.
In 2009, he was suspended for three matches for waving a handful of money at a referee after a penalty decision went against his side Chongqing Lifan. He is currently trying to guide Tianjin Teda to the Chinese Super League title.
Willem van Hanegem (Midfielder)
The rough and tumble midfielder despised the Germans and didn’t mind publically denouncing them ahead of the 1974 final. He was the heart and soul of the Oranje and was crushed when they failed to beat the Germans as his tears after the final whistle showed.
He stayed at Feyenoord for two years before moving to Erevidisie outfit AZ. He then flew to the USA for a one-year sojourn with the Chicago Sting before making a bee-line back to Holland with Utrecht and Feyenoord where he retired in 1983. He remained in the Netherlands taking coaching gigs with Feyenoord, AZ, Sparta Rotterdam and Utrecht before he was fired in 2008.
He was a trailblazer of sorts as he left the field in tears after the loss to Germany in 1974 before it was commonplace to do so and he also was married to one of the most desired WAGS of his time, Truus Van Hanegem. Their eventual divorce was front-page news and captivated the entire nation.
Wim Jansen (Midfielder)
The soft-spoken midfielder conceded the penalty that led to Germany’s equaliser in the 1974 final. Played for his home-town club Feyenoord for 15 years before hopping on a plane to the US to ply his trade for the Washington Diplomats at the request of his friend Johan Cruyff. He enjoyed a two-year stint in D.C. before heading back home to Holland to play for Ajax.
The Feyenoord faithful were not impressed with his decision to suit up for their hated rivals and he was subsequently pelted with a snowball when he was leaving the dressing room which hit him square in the eye. He stayed in Rotterdam for two seasons before heading back to Washington where he called time on his playing career.
Jansen was fairly successful in his managerial career taking the reins of boyhood club Feyenoord and Scottish giants Celtic. He led the Hoops to their first league title in ten years and helped shape the club's successful future by bringing in Henrik Larsson. In 2008, he was the second assistant to Gert Jan Verbeek at De Kuip until January 14, 2009 when both men quit after the team’s poor start. He was linked with a return to Celtic in 2010 but nothing materialised.
Johan Neeskens (Midfielder)
The classy attacking midfielder was one of the most important cogs in the total football machine and he opened up the scoring from the penalty spot in the second minute of the 1974 final. He also helped guide the Dutch national team to the final in Argentina four years later. He left Ajax after the ’74 edition of the tournament and joined Barcelona to team up with Johan Cruyff.
After a five-year stay with the Blaugrana the fan favourite headed to North America and signed a deal with the New York Cosmos where he played with Brazilian legend Pele. He finally hung up his boots in 1991 after a one-game stint in Switzerland.
Neeskans then made the seamless transition into coaching where he was the assistant manager for the Dutch national team under Guus Hiddink when the Oranje were beaten in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals of France ’98 against Brazil.
He was the assistant coach under Frank Rijkaard for two years in Barcelona before both were let go. Today you can find him in Turkey as Rijkaard’s right-hand man at Galatasaray.
Johan Cruyff (Forward)
The inspirational captain led the Dutch to the 1974 final and won the penalty in the second minute against the Germans. He went back to Barcelona after the tournament and stayed with the Catalan outfit for more years before moving to California in 1979.
He stayed on the west coast for a year before moving east to Washington DC. After a short stint with Washington he returned to Europe and eventually returned to his boyhood club Ajax before retiring with Feyenoord.
His next logical move was to enter the coaching ranks and his managerial career would rival his success on the pitch. He enjoyed a fruitful spell at Ajax before making his way to Barcelona in 1988 where he would really make his mark.
He won 11 trophies with the ‘Dream Team’ at Camp Nou including the 1992 European Cup. He left the Blaugrana in 1998 and vowed never to coach again after falling out with the then-club president Josep Lluis Nunez.
Cruyff, a fierce and outspoken advocate of the beautiful game, was made the honorary president of Barcelona in 2010 and is currently the coach of the Catalonian national team.
Rob Rensenbrink (Forward)
The Anderlecht attacker was an instrumental part of the Dutch team that made the 1974 final. He enjoys near mythical status at the Belgian giants where he scored 143 goals in nine years. He too made the trek over to North America to play for the Portland Timbers in 1980 but was on the next plane back to Europe and signed with French outfit Toulouse.
One of the few players from the 1974 team who did not pursue a coaching career once his playing days were over, Rensenbrink has been incognito since his career finished as numerous attempts to contact him by Dutch newspapers and radio stations have been unsuccessful over the years.
Johnny Rep (Forward)
The Ajax striker stayed with the Amsterdam outfit for one more season after the 1974 World Cup before trying his luck with Valencia. A successful two-year stay at the Spanish outfit was followed by a move to Bastia where he led the French club to the European Cup final in 1978.
Rep was the victim of a bizarre April Fool’s stunt where Holland team-mates Rensenbrink and Van Hanegem called up a Dutch television station to inform them that he had died in a helicopter crash. Rep got his revenge when he organised a helicopter tour for the whole squad in Sardinia later that year.
Rep tried his hand coaching a couple of lower level clubs and was a scout for FC Omniworld until 2007. He is the Netherlands’ all-time leading goalscorer at the World Cup and recently gave an exclusive interview to Goal.com about Holland’s chances in South Africa.
Rene van de Kerkhof (Substitute)
The PSV man came on in the 46th minute in place of Rensenbrink in the 1974 final. He enjoyed a successful nine-year career with the Eindhoven outfit before making the switch to Greek club Apollon Smyrni in 1983.
He settled down with Helmond Sport one year later and called it quits in 1988 with FC Eindhoven. He did not pursue a career in management after his playing days were over.
Theo de Jong (Substitute)
The Feyenoord midfielder replaced Rijsbergen in the 69th minute with Holland desperately needing a goal against Germany. He made the switch to Roda in 1977 before ending his playing career with FC Den Bosch in 1984.
He bounced around numerous clubs as a coach including stints as the assistant manager for China and Cameroon. His last job was with Iranian Steel Azin where he lasted less than a year.
Rinus Michels (Coach)
The inventor of Total Football went on to coach the Netherlands once more after the heartbreaking loss to the Germans in 1974. The strict disciplinarian guided Holland to the Euro ’88 title extracting some revenge over Germany by beating them in the semi-finals sending the Dutch faithful back home in raptures although the victory was tainted somewhat by Ronald Koeman’s gesture of wiping his behind with Olaf Thon’s jersey in front of the German supporters. The Dutch went on to beat the USSR in the final to lift the trophy.
He was named as Dutch Manager of the Century in 1999 and received the UEFA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Michels passed away on March 3, 2005 in Belgium after heart complications.