Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Pele and Bobby Moore

with 31 comments

Iconic Photos looks back on one of the greatest moments of soccer and of sportsmanship. 

England and Brazil came into the 1970 world cup in Mexico with high hopes. England were the reigning champions; Brazil, the winners of 1958 and 1962, lost embarrassingly and were kicked out at the group stage in 1966. Now they were back, with a team of “five number 10s” – Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Gerson and Tostao.

Many people predicted that the groupmatch between England and Brazil would be the dress rehearsal for the eventual inevitable final. It wasn’t, but the match in did not disappoint. Even today, even those who do not know much about football and its history (like your writer) would recognize the iconic moments from this match: Alan Ball’s and Jeff Astle’s misses, Bobby Moore’s tackle on Pele and, of course, Gordon Banks’s remarkable save from Pele’s header, which had been repeatedly called the best save ever.

Jairzinho’s memorable goal led to Brazil winning by 1 – 0, but this game still had one more iconic moment to offer: of Pele and Bobby Moore, the great striker and the great defender, exchanging their jerseys. What made this photo so timeless was that you can hardly tell who had won and who had lost based on their touch, their smiles, and their eyes. Both players considered it a defining moment of their careers.

The photo, which would later come to symbolize the World Cup passing from England to Brazil as the latter won the tournament that year, was taken by John Varley. After the final whistle, Varney stayed close to Bobby Moore, hoping that Pele would approach. He did, and the rest was photographic history.

Varney, one of a few photographers shooting in color, nearly didn’t make it to Mexico; his car had broken down, and he had to hitchhike. The Daily Mirror’s war and foreign correspondent, Varney was an avid football fan, and he requested in his contract that the newspaper give him a break every four years to cover the World Cup, which he did from 1966 to 1982.

(Correction: Originally, this photo was posted mirror-imaged; comments below and the New York Times point that Pelé should be on the left and Moore on the right. The Times also writes this picture broke down racial prejudices. That might be a little hyperbolic.)

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

June 16, 2012 at 7:54 am

Posted in Sports

Tagged with ,

31 Responses

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  1. If you look between their heads, you can see a banner it clearly says Mexico. The version you put up, is therefor the mirrored one. Other giveaways are the fact that people have their shutter button on the wrong side. Also almost all people in the picture are lefties?


    June 16, 2012 at 8:38 am

  2. Re: mirror-image> The image presented here looks to be the mirrored image – this is suggested by the photographer in the background (right of Pele) notice the shutter finger – it appears as his left hand.


    June 16, 2012 at 8:40 am

  3. Mirror-imaged or not? The photographers could give a glue. I can see two watches in “right” hands and some of the photographers seem to be left handed. This is not the the norm (at least where I come from) so I’d say this photo is mirrored.


    June 16, 2012 at 8:44 am

  4. 2 great legends right there!


    June 16, 2012 at 9:19 am

  5. Bobby’s hair is parted on the right, at least on Wikipedia.

    Wonderful picture.


    June 16, 2012 at 11:34 am

  6. Such a rare iconic photograph of two legends.. painful to know the racial prejudice 😦


    July 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

  7. My grandad took this picture. Very Proud!

    It is the real picture as Pele should be on the left side of the pic.

    The guy who wrote this needs to get our surname right! Varley not Varney!

    Jack Varley

    May 28, 2013 at 8:27 pm

  8. Reblogged this on votakatttt.


    June 18, 2014 at 1:25 am

  9. What a great photo. Looking forward to seeing what iconic photos will be made from the current World Cup!


    June 18, 2014 at 2:50 am

  10. Great photo and piece. There have been some iconic shots already in this World Cup. Robin Van Persie’s goal and celebration thereafter have to be high on the list.


    June 18, 2014 at 5:51 am

  11. Legends in deed!
    Hey Guys;Since I started working from home,I have enjoyed plenty of time for myself, friends and family without deadlines to beat everyday. I joined for free and I feel I am in control of my life. You can do the same by signing up at http://www.sfi4.com/14300885/FREE for free. Life can be amazing!


    June 18, 2014 at 9:44 am

  12. Great pic!!

    Harsha MP

    June 18, 2014 at 10:38 am

  13. very interesting read thank you. I wasn’t around in the era of this so it was good to read something informative on the pictures and how they symbolism aided relations and a positive image of football in general.

    Matt Cromwell

    June 18, 2014 at 11:02 am

  14. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.


    June 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm

  15. Reblogged this on kshaurabh and commented:
    A real treat to have a look on some of the most legendary photographs


    June 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

  16. Reblogged this on Ikechukwu86's Blog.


    June 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

  17. Reblogged this on Regate F.C. and commented:

    Omar Mas

    June 18, 2014 at 3:17 pm

  18. What a great article !
    I can remember being greatly saddened back in 1993 when Bobby Moore died at the far too young age of 51.
    The Science Geek


    June 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm

  19. This is when men were men and football was sexy, unlike now, when football boils down to cash – filthy lucre. Last night’s Brazil v Mexico game boasted £400 million worth of footballers!


    June 18, 2014 at 7:46 pm

  20. I was in Indonesia at the time and remember seeing the photo on a magazine cover, but I hadn’t learned the language yet, so I didn’t know what the photo was about. But I recall being struck by it all the same.
    Race was still a front page issue in the US, and people on all sides of the race issues were struck by photos such as this one – two world-admired celebrities being human.

    Karl Drobnic

    June 19, 2014 at 12:17 am

  21. Viva


    June 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm

  22. Reblogged this on Tisel Milan Vukovic.

    TISEL Milan Vukovic

    June 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm

  23. I’m not a huge fan of football but I love the sportsmanship displayed between Moore and Pele. Just great.


    June 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm

  24. Pele & Moore, 2 greats from the world of football…..:-)


    June 22, 2014 at 9:57 am

  25. good legend,,,


    June 23, 2014 at 7:41 am

  26. Reblogged this on handicappedivy's Blog and commented:


    June 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

  27. geulisan

    June 26, 2014 at 4:41 pm

  28. Reblogged this on Apps Lotus's Blog.


    July 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm

  29. I Dont know


    August 7, 2014 at 1:28 pm

  30. Great image. Thanks for posting.


    December 7, 2014 at 11:41 am

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