We see history in still images. At least that's the theory of Matthew Butson, vice president of Getty Images' Archive. So when he was asked to pull some of the most historic images in World Cup history, Butson chose not only the photos that showed the evolution of sports photography, but also the images that spoke to the story of the World Cup and how it became one of the biggest tournaments in the world.
This image, dubbed "The Hand of God," features arguably the most controversial goals ever in the sport of soccer. Argentina's Diego Maradona, a controversial figure himself, scored the first goal of a 2-1 victory over England in the 1986 World Cup on a ball that he punched into the net with the outside of his left fist. The goal went unpenalized and later became one of the most debated goals ever. Maradona described the goal as "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."
"It was just such a pivotal moment of that World Cup," Butson said before explaining that the capturing of this image was almost as perfect as the play itself. Since the technology of photography wasn't as advanced, the photographer was waiting for the play to unfold with his finger waiting to press the button at the right moment. "A split second later and you haven't got the shot. A split second earlier and it's not the shot. It was all about timing."
Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne became a legendary player for England in the 1990 World Cup and even more so when a yellow card against Germany denied him the chance to potentially play in the World Cup final. Although England ultimately lost to Germany and failed to advance, the image of a heart-broken Gazza made him a loveable character in England. Butson said the shot brings back a simpler time in sports when "they were very much sports people first and celebrities second, and that sort of has changed with time."
At 17 years old, Edson Arantes do Nascimento was the youngest player to star in a finals tournament at the time. But the young man who came to be known as Pele led Brazil with two goals in the final in a 5-2 victory over Sweden in the 1958 World Cup. This image, taken by an unknown photographer, was syndicated by the famous Keystone agency, and described by Butson as "relatively rudimentary in nature" compared to what comes from today's high-tech cameras. It was the career launch of a player that many still call the greatest of all time.
The First World Cup Final: July 30, 1930
What's the first thing you notice here? Yes, the referee is wearing a full suit and tie in the first World Cup final held in Uruguay in 1930. In this shot Uruguayan captain Jose Nasazzi (left) is seen exchanging pennants with Argentina's Manuel Ferreira before the match.
Keep Your Shirt On: July 23, 1966
The 1966 World Cup quarter-final match behind Argentina and England produced some incredible scenes, none more infamous than the image of Argentinan captain Antonio Rattin refusing to leave the field after being sent off by officials for chastising the German referee. The match was full of hostility from the outset and continued after Rattin's ejection. The rivarly behind Argentina and England as burned ever since—only worsened by Maradona's "Hand of God" play.
The Save of the Century: June 1, 1970
English legend Gordon Banks was quoted in a UK publication saying, "Everyone talks about that one and only save; I think it's the only one I've ever made in my career." Of course, for the World Cup-winning goalkeeper, it is not. But people still talk about the impossible save Banks made against Pele and what appeared to be an unbeatable Brazilan team in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
Butson described this image as a perfect illustration of Zinedine Zidane's fall from grace while in search of his second World Cup victory for France. In a play that will forever be a part of World Cup lore, Zidane headbutted Italy's Marco Materazzi in the chest. After some talk between referees, Zidane was shown the red card, the first ejection of a player in extra time during a World Cup final. Photographer Martin Rose captured the moment that Zidane, head down, walked past the World Cup trophy in the final game of his career. Italy won the game.
Pickles - A World Cup Hero
Just four months before the 1966 World Cup, the trophy was stolen during an exhibition at Westminster Central Hall in London. The thief, however, turned out to be a fake, and Pickles (photographed left) reportedly found the Jules Rimet trophy wrapped in newspaper in a garden in Beulah Hill in South London, saving England from further scandal.
Back of the Net
Shot by Ben Radford, this image is an example of the evolution of sports photography in recent years, according to Butson. The photo is an early example of photographers using a remote camera set up in the goal to capture decisive moments. This goal was by Germany's Michael Ballack during the 2002 World Cup when Germany defeated South Korea to advance to the World Cup final.