PUMA Vlado Stenzel 'Magician'

After a strong run of releases on some lesser seen PUMA archive goodness, the big Cat turns our collective attention back to another recently unearthed style in the Vlado Stenzel trainer.

To set the scene and give a bit of background the Vlado Stenzel was developed at the height of handball shoe development in the mid to late 1970's. When pairs began to hit the shelves of sporting goods stores it represented PUMA's latest & greatest foray into the world of handball shoes. A sport wildly popular in Germany and neighboring European nations.  Handball taking on even more significance to PUMA being a key market battleground in the world of sports footwear. With a bounty of fellow shoemakers jostling for prominence in the now burgeoning sport shoe market. PUMA opted to go down the endorsement route and dubbed their latest handball shoe the ‘Vlado Stenzel’. Partnering with  Croatian goalkeeper, Olympic gold medalist & latterly German coach in the art of Handball. His knowledge and skill led to the nickname ‘Der Magier’ or the ‘The Magician’ in English.

It was that nickname and that got us thinking (not to mention the colourway of this latest Vlado Stenzel shoe) about the often cited ‘Magician’ phrase in sport.  It’s littered across writings, commentators waxing lyrical about individuals making the impossible seem possible through their beguiling talent. We couldn't help but think of some of the greats to have left us scratching our heads. There was only one magician this latest effort from PUMA could make us think about... Johan Cruyff.
It's 1974. Muhammad Ali and George Foreman go toe to toe at the Rumble in The Jungle. A Swedish pop outfit win the Eurovison song contest with a song named after a battle in 1815. McDonalds starts slinging cheeseburgers in the UK & Johan Cryuff changes the beautiful game forever with a drop of the shoulder.

That years World Cup saw the Dutch shine cementing a way of playing that would become synonymous, Total football! As well as a blueprint for teams of the future to emulate and build on. Despite the heroics of their campaign which ultimately saw them come up just short of a West German side, we're focusing on exactly the 23rd minute of the third group stage match against Sweden. When Cruyff picked the ball up on the left hand side of the pitch and is tasked with taking on Sweden's right back Jan Olsson (spare a thought). The proceeding passage of play is the stuff of legend. The best players always seem to make the game look as simple as it is and perhaps the Cruyff turn best exemplifies this. Selling the defender a bluff and leaving him dumbfounded as he breezes past with the telstar at his feet up the left wing. A relatively simple turn that even the most uncultured of us 5 a-side players can attempt and maybe even pull off too although its never quite as enchanting. 
Not content with just blazing trails on the pitch Johan Cruyff became one of the first footballers to set up a foundation to give back. Inclusiveness and opportunity drives the work that the foundation does to ensure everyone can experience the simple joys of a game of football.

The Cruyff Foundation has helped develop Cruyff Courts across the globe and recognizes the educational, social and inclusive value of play areas within urban communities. We went past a cruyff court local to us named after fellow ballon D'or winner Dennis Law. The facility remains free to use for all 365 days a year. 
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