It was a summer that played out in an orange haze. One of floppy-haired Dutchmen letting their revolutionary brand of football loose on the world and cavorting their way into the hearts and minds of the adoring public. It was Johan Cruyff's summer. At least, it almost was.

As he ground-hopped through West Germany in 1974, Cruyff embraced each game with more of a dance than a duel, his every stroke of leather compelling and each balletic movement steeped in vision and expectation.

Just the mention of his name transports you to Dortmund's Westfalenstadion, 19 June, the 24th minute - the moment Cruyff conjured up an unmistakable turn that bamboozled Sweden's Jan Olsson and was cast in football folklore.

"The turn wasn't something I'd ever done in training or practised," wrote Cruyff in his autobiography, My Turn. "The idea came to me in a flash, because at that particular moment it was the best solution for the situation I was in."

Yet that piece of skill, the inventive, individual moment of brilliance he is remembered most vividly for, was a beautiful contradiction.

Cruyff was the face of Total Football - a style of play where success blossoms with a collective, almost telepathic understanding of space and movement among all 11 players - but he was also the one star that could break the mould.

Cruyff was the essence of a team who captured the imagination with football as vivid and resplendent as their orange shirts, including leaving their mark on a mesmerised future Arsenal manager.

"I discovered completely new football," recalled Arsene Wenger at the Cruyff Legacy Summit. "When you speak today about pressing, transition and winning the ball back quickly, in 1974 Holland did that already.

"They were miles ahead tactically. They believed in the way they think about the game and they were not ready to compromise with their ideas: 'That's the way we see the game and that is the way football has to be played.'"

It was a concept that began with Ajax, the club based just five minutes from Cruyff's childhood home in Amsterdam. 'Jopie' joined as a 10-year-old, his mother later got a job there as a cleaner following his father's death, and it was Ajax that helped supplement him leaving school at 15 by faking his age to offer him a "special" youth contract.

Under the guidance of the great Rinus Michels, Cruyff became an integral part of a side that would go on to dominate European football during a boom for Dutch clubs.

Michels, himself influenced by Hungary's Magical Magyars in the 1950s, developed a style of football that would see Ajax win their first European Cup in 1971 and - after he left for Barcelona later that year - watched as the side he built collected three successive continental crowns.

"Michels made us run less and take over each other's positions, which was revolutionary," Ruud Krol, former Ajax and the Netherlands defender, told Uefa.

"It was the first time there was a totally different vision of football. Total Football spread all over the world. It was the only real change for almost 40 years. He stunned the world."

By 1973 Cruyff, about to claim his second Ballon d'Or, was an Ajax star and an idol for youngsters in the Netherlands at a time of social and cultural change.

Young people related to his practical approach and admired his exceptional talent. He was unwittingly cool - as a teenager he would stub out cigarettes on his boot soles - but he could also be confrontational, demanding and rebellious.

"He said you must do this in a game or you must do that," team-mate Johnny Rep remembered in David Winner's book Brilliant Orange. "It was not easy for me to shut my mouth."

Cruyff wore the Ajax armband, but during a summer training camp the squad voted Piet Keizer in as captain. Furious and feeling undermined, it spelled the end in Amsterdam for Cruyff, who called it a "form of jealousy I had never before experienced".

He left Ajax to join Michels in Barcelona for a then world-record £922,000 and helped the Catalan side to a first La Liga title in 14 years.