A Look Back at Iconic World Cup Moments

Brazilian player Zito celebrates scoring the second goal for Brazil during the 1962 World Cup final in Santiago, Chile. Brazil beat Czechoslovakia 3–1.

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Soccer and photography have changed a lot since the first World Cup in 1930, and Getty Images has the proof. Its Hulton Archive has millions of images dating all the way back to that first showdown between nations in Uruguay that, together, tell a story about the development of the game and the means we have of capturing it. “From glass plates to film to color to digital technology, it’s all about ultimately getting the moment,” said Matthew Butson, vice president of Getty Images’ Archive. “Whether it’s 1930 or 2014, you’ve still got to get your finger on the shutter button. That’s why I like these images—a split second earlier or later and you wouldn’t have gotten the shot.”

Zinedine Zidane of France walks past the World Cup trophy after being sent off during the FIFA World Cup 2006 final match between Italy and France at Olympic Stadium on July 9, 2006 in Berlin, Germany.

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England captain Bobby Moore holds up the Jules Rimet trophy as he is carried on the shoulders of his teammates after their 4–2 victory over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup at Wembley Stadium in London.

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Nigel De Jong of the Netherlands kicks Xabi Alonso of Spain in the chest during the 2010 FIFA World Cup final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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England football manager, Alf Ramsey, preventing George Cohen from swapping his shirt with an Argentine player after a bad tempered World Cup quarter-final on July 23, 1966 at Wembley Stadium in London.

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England goalkeeper Gordon Banks makes a remarkable save from a header by Pelé of Brazil during their first round match in the World Cup at Guadalajara, Mexico in June 1970. Brazil went on to win 1–0.

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Getty Images has been the Authorized Photographic Agency of FIFA since 2009. The agency sent photographers to the World Cup for the first time in 1998, but it didn’t have its first large-scale operation at the World Cup until 2002. Today, Getty Images has a team of 75 people, including 46 photographers and 13 editors, covering the World Cup in Brazil. There are a minimum of five Getty photographers at each match, and each week the team uploads more than 15,000 images to Getty’s website. “In the 1930s, you probably had a dozen photographers there. Very few countries would send their journalists to the World Cup. A lot of photos came from local stringers. As the finals progressed every year they became a different thing,” he said. “For the finals now, you’ve got 400 or 500 photographers there at least and the images are available almost a split second after they’re taken. Back then, you had to get them processed and get prints done. Our expectations for instant imagery are a far cry form the 1930s.”

So what makes a great soccer image? Pointing to a blurry shot of English goalkeeper Gordon Banks famously saving a header by Pelé during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Butson said it’s all about timing, not technical brilliance. “The image is a perfect example of split second timing—both in terms of the save itself and the shutter in the days before motor-drive became the norm,” he said in a statement.

Some of the greatest World Cup photos also capture the extreme highs and lows of emotions that occur on the field. A 2006 photo of a solitary Zinedine Zidane walking past the World Cup trophy after being ejected from the game for his infamous head butt, Butson said, perfectly encapsulates the “rise and fall of arguably one of the greatest players ever to grace the world of football.” On the other hand, a 1962 photo of Brazil’s Zito scoring a goal in the World Cup final against Chile, “sums up what the World Cup means to the relative few that have a winner’s medal as part of their footballing mementos.” “Though one cannot see the joy on Zito’s face, this back view showing him in mid air represents sheer exuberance,” Butson said in a statement.

Read all of Slate’s World Cup 2014 coverage. 

Geoff Hurst scores England’s third goal against West Germany in the World Cup final match at Wembley Stadium on July 30, 1966. The goal, awarded upon the judgement of the Russian linesman, has remained one of the most controversial goals in the history of the competition. England became World champions with a 4–2 victory after extra time.

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Brazilian football star Pelé and Swedish goalkeeper Kalle Svensson jump for the ball during the final game of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

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Manuel Neuer of Germany watches the ball bounce over the line from a Frank Lampard shot that hit the crossbar. Referee Jorge Larrionda judged the ball did not cross the line during the 2010 FIFA World Cup match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

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Pickles, the dog who sniffed out the missing Jules Rimet Trophy—which had been stolen from the National Stamp Exhibition a week earlier on Marc 28, 1966—poses for photographers near the spot in Norwood, London, where he found the trophy.

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Mario Kempes of Argentina celebrates scoring a goal during the final game of the 1978 FIFA World Cup between Argentina and Holland, on June 25, 1978 at the River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina won the match 3–1 after extra time.

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