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Johan Cruyff critical of 'dirty play' by Dutch

Netherlands' midfielder Nigel de Jong, left, fouls Spain's

Netherlands' midfielder Nigel de Jong, left, fouls Spain's midfielder Xabi Alonso during the 2010 World Cup football final. (July 11, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Dutch soccer legend Johan Cruyff had to cringe watching the  World Cup final.

Sure, the Netherlands lost 1-0 on a last-minute goal by Spain's Andres Iniesta, but it was the way the Dutch played that bothered him most. After all, Cruyff is considered by many as one of the most stylish players of all time.

In Cruyff's column for El Periodico in Barcelona, he said the Dutch squad "played very dirty." The Netherlands collected nine of a record 14 yellow cards in the final. One player, John Heitinga, was sent off after receiving his second yellow and midfielder Nigel de Jong (pictured), was widely criticized for his flying kick to the chest of Spain's Xabi Alonso.

In my opinion, de Jong's challenge was completely fair ... had he been facing Johnny Cage or Sub-Zero. (am I dating myself with that video game reference?).

Some American fans remember de Jong for breaking the leg of midfielder Stu Holden during a friendly in March. During the match, Holden tweeted: "How is de Jong not sent off there? Reckless challenge ... Again ..."

Cruyff, in his column, went on to write: "Holland chose an ugly path to aim for the title."

Cruyff scored 33 goals in 48 career matches for the Netherlands and was a member of the 1974 team that finished runner-up to Germany at the World Cup. He retired before the team's next run to the final in 1978.

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