AIFF Masterclass: Total Football simplified by Johan Neeskens

Johan Neeskens

Former Netherlands International and ex Ajax Amsterdam and FC Barcelona star Johan Neeskens is amongst those select few who were instrumental in changing football, as we know it in the modern-day.

We have had great players and we have had legendary ones. And yet there are those who have, forever, left their footprints on the sands, changed the ‘Beautiful Game,’ and moulded it in a manner that improved the sport world over.

Having come to Delhi as part of an exchange programme between KNVB (Netherlands Football Federation) and the All India Football Federation, Neeskens took to the pitch with a number of young coaches, explaining to them the different training techniques required to play an expansive game.

STARTING TOTAL FOOTBALL FROM THE BASE

It was at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi where Neeskens took to the pitch with former Groningen man Bert Zuurman to explain the implementation of expansive footballing tactics to a number of local coaches.

Starting with just four players on the pitch, Neeskens introduced a training exercise that at first seemed alien to the young coaches. He often stopped them to explain what to do under different situations. Very soon the young Indian coaches began to master the exercise and even revelled in it.

“You need to explain the objective of any training exercise to your players. Only then will they begin to grasp it,” Neeskens explained as one of the first steps towards implementing the style of play that he was so famous for.

It was in the 70s that the philosophy of Total Football was introduced by Rinus Michels, and implemented on the pitch by the likes of Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens and the rest.

Neeskens believes that the philosophy of his former coach has also developed over time, and evolved with modern football. However, he remains a firm believer in the fact that Total Football’s core values have helped keep it intact.

“We can’t say that Total Football has changed because football itself has changed. More and more countries around the world have started to understand the game, which is why even teams that want to keep the ball have had to change the way they play,” Neeskens said.

“Football is a funny game. You can explain it and put it on paper, but that may not reflect on the pitch,” he said. “You have to tell them what is important in a particular situation. Once they grasp the base idea behind a particular exercise, you will see that they will also bring in their own creativity to it, and execute it in manners that you as a coach would not have even thought of,” the Master declared.

‘CATCH ‘EM YOUNG’

In terms of Indian Football, Neeskens believes that the players themselves should start from a much younger age.

“Generally we have seen kids starting to train under proper coaching systems around the age of 10-12,” he said. “It all comes down to how experienced a player is. Even at the age of 10-12, I believe that a player should have already had around five years of good coaching behind him. Then you can try out complicated routines which they can execute.”

Neeskens drew a comparison with the USA in the 1970s. “Football was nothing over there in the 1970s. But they started at the very base level and that is why they have improved. They have a decent men’s team, and they have the best women’s team in the world. Japan, Korea and China have also followed the same model. When you start down there and then move forward, the future will be bright for India,” he maintained.

WORLD AND TOTAL FOOTBALL

Neeskens believes that the eye-catching game of Total Football that was implemented by legendary coach Rinus Michels lives on today in a more evolved manner. “We can’t say that Total Football has changed because football itself has changed,” he said.

“In the current day, Liverpool is a team that plays Total Football. Everybody is moving, be it in attack, or in defence. It’s the same with Manchester City. Now, you would have a lot of teams that try to keep the ball and move things around,” he continued. “More and more countries around the world have started to understand the game, which is why even teams that want to keep the ball have had to change the way they play.”

“It all depends on the coaches and the quality of the players, and the idea of how to put them together,” said Neeskens. “As a coach, you need to figure out what you want your team to play. But you also need to figure out whether your players can implement those ideas out the pitch.”

“As a coach, I may want to attack, but do my wingers have the quality? Do the strikers have the quality? Can the midfielders connect with the attacking players?”

For Trial related updates: Latest trials updates in Mumbai Football


Also Read: Defending champions take on table toppers to kick off ISL in 2020

Also Read: Bengaluru FC vs. FC Goa: 10 Things to Know About The Game


We would love to hear your Feedback on your Football Counter experience

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all the latest happenings in the world of Indian football.

Regal FC trials postponed to April

Mumbai based MDFA 3rd Division side Regal FC has postponed their upcoming trials to a new tentative date in April, amidst the Corona Virus outbreak Regal football Club had earlier announced…

Share

Mumbai Marines FC to hold trials for MDFA 1st Division

Newly promoted side Mumbai Marines FC are on the lookout for players for the upcoming season of the MDFA 1st Division, the club announced. After a successful MDFA 2nd Division…

Share

Regal FC to conduct trials for 3rd Division campaign

Mumbai based MDFA 3rd Division side Regal FC will be conducting a two day football trials for city footballers for their upcoming season Regal football Club has announced that they…

Share

GKW Rangers FC to conduct YPL U14 and 3rd Division trials

Mumbai based GKW Rangers FC will conduct trials for its MDFA 3rd division side as well as its U14 age group team that competes in MDFA Yuva Premier League U14….

Share

Rhino Sports Academy to conduct trials on March 15th

Mumbai based Rhino Sports Academy will be conducting trials for its upcoming seasons of MDFA 1st Division and MDFA 3rd Division Rhino Sports Academy will be fielding a side each…

Share

OSCAR SSE to conduct age group trials for its 2020-21 Season Elite Program

OSCAR SSE, a 2 star AIFF Accredited Academy, will be conducting age group trials (U13, U15 and U18 players) to induct in its Elite Program for 2020-21 season All the…

Share

Sterling FA to conduct 2nd round of trials for MDFA 1st division team

Mumbai First Division side Sterling Football Academy will be conducting their 2nd round of trials for their MDFA 1st Division campaign this Saturday 29nd Feb Sterling Football Academy will be…

Share

Sterling FA to conduct trials for MDFA 1st division team

Mumbai First Division side Sterling Football Academy will be conducting trials for their MDFA 1st Division campaign this Saturday 22nd Feb Sterling Football Academy will be fielding a team in…

Share

Ex-Servicemen Social Education and Sports foundation to conduct trials for MDFA 1st & 3rd Division reams

Ex-Servicemen social education and sports foundation will be conducting trials for their MDFA 1st Division & 3rd Division sides The first round of trials for MDFA club Ex-Servicemen social education and…

Share

MDFA to host trials for WIFA Inter District Men’s Open Football Championship

The Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA), the governing body for football in Mumbai district is set to host their coaching camps and selection trials for the WIFA Inter District Men’s…

Share