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Born in León, de la Cruz started his senior career with Real Valladolid in Segunda División. Even though he suffered relegation at the end of the 1969–70 season, he moved straight into La Liga with Granada CF, making his debut in the competition on 13 September 1970 in a 1–1 away draw against Elche CF.
De la Cruz collected six caps for Spain, in as many years. His debut arrived on 12 April 1972, in a 0–0 friendly draw in Greece.
In early March 1972, de la Cruz signed with fellow league club FC Barcelona for six million pesetas, pending a medical that almost went wrong and with the deal being made effective in July. He went on to feature in more than 230 official matches during his tenure at the Camp Nou, scoring his first goal on 7 January 1973 in a 2–0 win at Real Zaragoza; on 16 May 1979, the 32-year-old came on as a second-half substitute in the final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in Basel, the 4–3 extra time defeat of Fortuna Düsseldorf.
In January 2003, following the sacking of Louis van Gaal and prior to the appointment of Radomir Antić, de la Cruz was named interim manager at Barcelona. He was in charge of the squad for one league match, a 0–3 away loss to Atlético Madrid.