FIFA World Cup is the biggest men’s football event in the world. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930 (in 1942 and 1946, the event was postponed due to the Second World War).
The current champion is Germany, which won its fourth title at the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
Today, we will proudly introduce to you our sports picture editor, Jonny Weeks, who helped us to pull out from the archives top 25 best World Cup images that ever taken by many talented photographers from around the world. Each image will have a short description of why it was chosen!
1- Jumping Geoff:
England football player Geoff Hurst (foreground) jumps in jubilation after scoring England’s winning goal against Argentina in the World Cup quarter final match at Wembley Stadium in 1966.
On the left is Roger Hunt (who was raising arms) and on the right is Alan Ball. The body language of Geoff says it all anyway, and there’s plenty of background context. In fact, the way he’s leaping out of shot accentuates the dynamism of the moment.
Photo by Central Press.
2- John Aldridge went berserk:
John William “Aldo” Aldridge is a former Republic of Ireland international footballer and right now is football manager. His memorable moment is about an off-pitch incident, when he was with Ireland national team against Mexico at USA ’94.
During that game, John Aldridge went berserk after it took an eternity for him to be allowed onto the pitch as a substitute for Steve Staunton. The gesture and the expression are what this shot is all about and how furious he was. When Aldridge finally was allowed on, after 6 full minutes of trying, he scored a goal which was crucial in securing qualification for the second round.
Photograph: Peter Robinson.
3- Jürgen’s Disco Dance:
Jürgen Klinsmann is a German football manager and former player who was most recently the head coach of the United States national team. He was part of the West German team that won the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
During the Final match with Argentina (World Cup 1990), Jürgen Klinsmann hit the ground hard following a challenge from Pedro Monzon. The striker reacted to Pedro Monzon’s mere presence by throwing himself rolling few rounds on the floor, before contorting his body like a professional breakdance dancer.
Monzon was shown a red card, making him the first player to be sent off in a World Cup final.
Photo by Mike King.
4- Roberto Baggio’s decisive penalty:
Roberto Baggio is an Italian former professional footballer who mainly played in several offensive positions. He is largely remembered for missing the decisive penalty in the shootout of the final against Brazil.
This is the moment Roberto Baggio handed Brazil the 1994 World Cup. The contrasting poses of Baggio and the goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel are in contrary emotion, the aerial vantage point creates the space around Baggio which really drums home the notion of him being alone in his misery.
Photograph: Mike Powell.
5- Maradona and the Hand of God:
Diego Armando Maradona Franco is an Argentine retired professional footballer and manager. Among most of football lovers, Maradona could be compared as the greatest football player of all time.
Argentina’s Diego Maradona scored the ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in 1986, which caused the controversy of all time in football world. Daniel Motz is one of a few photographers who captured it on film.
Photograph: Daniel Motz.
6- Eusébio – Pitch Side Interview:
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was a Portuguese footballer who played as a striker. He helped Portugal reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goal scorer of the tournament with nine goals and received the Bronze Ball award.
There’s something wonderfully innocent about this shot, as Eusébio gives an instant pitch-side interview in 1966, the kind of interview that we’re no longer be seen nowadays. The look of all the onlookers proved the talent of the photographer: right place, right time!
7- Marco Tardelli – The Fountain of Water:
Marco Tardelli is an Italian former football player and manager. He achieved success with the Italian national team, his highest achievement was winning the 1982 edition of the tournament.
Let’s look at Marco’s elated facial expression, the fountain of water and the tension throughout his arms all combine perfectly. It shows Italy’s Marco Tardelli after his side won the World Cup in 1982.
8- Iniesta – A dream fulfilled:
The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final was taken place on 11 July 2010 at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa. On that day, Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0 with a goal from Andrés Iniesta four minutes from the end of extra time.
This is a unique angle shot from the 2010 World Cup, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want as a picture editor. This image was so different to the thousands of other contenders we received from that match that it was chosen as the front page of our sport section the following morning. Andrés Iniesta had, of course, scored the only goal in the final, kissing the biggest achievement of his football career.
Photograph: John Sibley.
9- Alcides Ghiggia & the Winning Goal:
Alcides Edgardo Ghiggia Pereyra was an Italian-Uruguayan football player, who played as a right winger. He achieved lasting fame for his decisive role in the final match of the 1950 World Cup.
The picture above is the moment Alcides Ghiggia shattered Brazilian hearts at the 1950 World Cup. This was the winning goal of what was effectively the World Cup final between Uruguay and Brazil. The picture seems to capture the moment perfectly. Also, the way the ball is heading straight for the camera is remarkable because it was captured from an old-tech camera model, unlike modern cameras nowadays.
Photo by: PA
10- Rivaldo’s “Injury”:
Rivaldo’s theatrical dive in the Group Stage of the 2002 World Cup is one of the most controversial moments in Football and World Cup history. Rivaldo’s dive resulted in the Hakan Ünsal being red carded by South Korean referee Kim Young-Joo.
His remarkable overacting of the incident (the ball hit him on the leg, not the face) seemed to completely attract some of the photographers who were standing near to him; only a couple of them have even aimed their lenses at him; the guy on the left seems confused.
Photo by: PA
11- The spit of Frank Rijkaard:
During the match between West Germany and Netherlands in World Cup 1990, Rijkaard was the cause of an incident with Rudi Völler. Rijkaard was booked for a tackle on Völler and right after that, he spat in Völler’s hair. Völler complained to the referee and was booked as well.
It’s actually a memorable moment that was captured by the photographer. Based on the situation, we could predict what is about to happen next after that moment.
Photograph: Martina Hellman
12- Alf Ramsey & the shirt-swap controversy:
The controversy surrounding the quarter final which saw Sir Alf Ramsey’s England side beat Argentina 1-0 at Wembley Stadium. At that time, Sir Alf Ramsey did not want England player to swap their shirts with Argentina players because of the way Argentina had played.
There are several versions of this image of England manager Alf Ramsey preventing George Cohen from exchanging shirts with Argentina’s Alberto Gonzalez after their quarter-final in 1966. This one is the most amusing, making this incident looks like a tug of war.
Photograph: S&G and Barratts.
13- Diego Maradona: One against Six
It is one of football’s most iconic images – Diego Maradona taking on the Belgians as he tried to conquer the world.
The truth behind this picture is that Diego Maradona wasn’t attempting to take on a posse of Belgium players, as the image seems to imply. It’s still a remarkable photograph, though, and one which seems befitting of a player of Maradona’s special quality.
Photograph: Steve Powell
14- Carlos Valderrrama – A bizarre character:
Carlos Alberto Valderrama, also known as El Pibe (“The Kid”), is a Colombian former footballer who is famous for his distinctive hairstyle, as well as talent and skillful playing style. He is regarded as one of the best Colombian and South American footballers of all time, and by some as Colombia’s greatest player ever.
It’s a bizarre image of a bizarre character. There isn’t an inch of flesh or kit in sight. But it’s Valderrama – what better way to photograph him?
Photograph: Mark Leech.
15- The war at Hillsborough:
When Argentina had their first match with Switzerland, it was on 1966, and they won the game with 02 goals from Luis Artime and Ermindo Onega.
This is a rather unorthodox shot from the game, and I like to think the photographer was always intending to frame the action in this way, capturing the raking shadows of the players across the turf, though it may just have been a chance occurrence. Either way, the back-lighting gives it a great sense of drama.
16- A pain of Paul Gascoigne:
It has been 28 years since England crashed out of Italia 90 at the semi-final stage after a roller coaster tournament, but some of us might still remember the moment when Paul Gascoigne busted into tears after was England out of the game, cause them the 4th place on that year.
Perhaps I’m being too emotional but I just think this image summed up Gazza’s character as well as the tragedy of the defeat, and when you look at it decades on it still evokes genuine sympathy. Football photography doesn’t always do that.
Photograph: Billy Stickland
17- Franco Baresi & the unwanted Silver medal:
At the 1994 World Cup, Franco Baresi was named Italy’s captain and was an important factor of the squad that reached the final, although he would miss a penalty in the resulting shoot-out as Brazil lifted the trophy.
Italy had just lost in the 1994 World Cup final and Baresi definitely didn’t want that medal at all. And here he is, a captain with a look that could kill.
Photograph: Peter Robinson.
18- A carnival with flying toilet paper in Argentina:
Fans are obviously fundamental to the atmosphere of any World Cup. As you could see below, it’s the way of Argentina’s fans welcoming their team onto the pitch because it’s like a carnival. Everyone has just gone wild.
The toilet roll arcing towards the lens helps to create a remarkable effect. It draws your eye into the frame and gives a sense of proximity to the hoopla.
Photograph: Peter Robinson.
19- Pele runaround move:
The Pelé runaround move is a football move designed to get around an opponent. The move requires timing and speed in execution – letting a pass from a teammate approach but allowing it run past the opponent, then sprinting around the opposing player to continue the attack.
From this image, Pelé was fooling the Uruguay goalkeeper with the so-called ‘runaround move’ at the 1970 World Cup. Imagine how much more celebrated it would be if he’d actually scored. It could be as loved as the shot of him wearing a sombrero at Mexico’s Azteca Stadium after victory in 1970.
Photograph: Offside Sports Photography.
20- A celebration from the pitch:
When the England team won the 1966 World Cup, everyone knows the obvious images from the 1966 final – the winning goal, Bobby Moore with the trophy, etc. but not so many pictures from the pitch were captured, and here is one of them:
It features a show-stealing jump from the England physiotherapist Harold Shepherdson. England’s manager, Alf Ramsey, is pictured in the background, being congratulated, while the likes of Peter Bonetti and Jimmy Greaves watch on (to the right of the frame). Shepherdson brilliantly obliterates them all with his enthusiastic outburst.
Photograph: Gerry Cranham.
21- Johann Cruyff’s scoring moment:
The Holland midfielder Johann Cruyff did many beautiful things on a football pitch but there aren’t all that many photographs which showcase his skill.
This one leapt to the top of a very ordinary pile partly because of his deft pirouette and partly because the Argentinian player in the background seems to be frozen with disbelief. It happened when Holland played Argentina in 1974, a game in which Cruyff scored twice.
22- British sailor’s celebration:
Of all the World Cup photographs, this picture is the one that could make everyone smile at the first sign. It’s a British sailor parading the North Korean goal scorer Pak Seung Zin after they drew with Chile in the 1966 World Cup at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough.
There’s no especial reason to find it funny other than the sailor’s outfit and his incongruous presence on the pitch with the exhausted footballers. It’s just a great snapshot of a bygone era.
Photo by: PA.
23- Sympathy for David Seaman:
David Seaman took some serious consoling after he failed to catch the chips ball from Ronaldinho against Brazil ensured England were knocked out of the 2002 World Cup at the quarter-final stage. Seaman had allowed himself to be lobbed from distance.
This photograph proves that sometimes you don’t need facial expressions to convey emotion. The lettering on his shirt and the two arms around his back tell the story perfectly.
24- Zinedine Zidane vs Marco Materazzi:
Talking about Zizou and World Cup, we could not forget the “unforgettable” moment when he head-butting Materazzi when France vs Italy in World Cup 2006, which costed him a red card and France’s exist also.
The huge expanse of black sets the dramatic tone, while the haunted pose says all that needs to be said of Zidane’s plight.
Photograph: Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images.
25- Various Shades of Blue:
Among our top 25 list of the best ever World Cup photographs, this shot of the Argentina player Daniel Passarella being carried aloft with the World Cup in 1978 would probably made it to the top.
The color of the skyline is electric and neatly compliments the various shades of blue in the jerseys and flags. From the picture, Passrella’s drained expression is rather apposite given the pressure Argentina had faced on home soil.
World Cup 2018 is just few months ahead, let’s join us to review top 25 best moments of World Cup since the beginning of this biggest football event of the world!
From “The hand of God” of Diego Maradona to the infamous head-butting of Zinedine Zidane and much more unforgettable moments during the past few decades, just take a look and let us know which one is your favorite moment by leaving a comment!