The swirling frenzy around Pelé at the end of the World Cup final in 1970 made for this wonderfully dynamic picture. Notice all the photographers scrabbling for the perfect shot, the ecstatic man in the striped shirt confronting the topless hero, and even the big sombrero popping into frame on the right – it’s a scene rich with eccentric characters revelling in a moment of footballing history. Pelé’s gravity-defying header against Italy in the 19th minute of the final had set Brazil en route to an emphatic 4-1 win – and their third world title in 12 years – while his nonchalant pass to Carlos Alberto, who lashed home the fourth goal four minutes from time, showcased the Seleção at their most irresistible. Some had suggested prior to the tournament that Pelé was past his peak and unbefitting of a place in such a star-studded squad. How wrong they were.
Photograph: Gerry Cranham / Offside
Words: Jonny Weeks
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