miércoles, 28 de octubre de 2015


Football is a sport featuring an amazing ability to arouse passions all over the world, with its boundless varieties of attacks, defenses, tactics, strategies, alternatives in the score, fidgets on the stands during the decisive stages of the matches, all kind of anecdotes among spectators, massive display of flags and shields of both national and local teams, a wide range of exotic attires worn by fans from different countries, elation galore when their teams score goals, songs to encourage the teams, banners with pictures or drawings of mythical players of the past, placards with messages to relatives, lovers of this sport who are able to travel many thousands of kilometers and do the most incredible efforts to watch a match live, and many hundreds of millions of fans encompassing people from every age and continent.

Frankfurt (Germany). July 1, 2006. Brazil vs France match of Football World Cup Germany 2006 quarterfinals.

French spectators supporting their team.

After winning the 1998 Football World Cup held in France with world-class players like Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Lilian Thuram, Didier Deschamps and others, football experienced a tremendous rise that it hadn´t known since the heydays of Just Fontaine (top scorer of the 1958 Sweden World Cup with 13 goals) and the top-notch French team of eighties with Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana, Dominique Rocheteau and others, to such an extent that it was about to win the 2006 World Cup in a thrilling final match against Italy on July 9, 2006 at the Berlin Olympia Stadion, with a fantastic Zinedine Zidane who was chosen MVP of the tournament.

Berlin Olympiastadion (Germany). June 30, 2006. Germany vs Argentina match of Football World Cup Germany 2006 quarterfinals.

Argentinian spectators supporting their team. One of them has travelled 11,900 kilometers with an original shirt of the Diego Maradona homage day held at the Boca Juniors stadium five years before, on November 10, 2001, and beside him, another Argentinian football enthusiast is grabbing an even more valuable shirt used by Diego Maradona in mid eighties and whose colurs have faded a bit
In Argentina football is to all intents and purposes the national sport, something lived with maximum intensity and almost a state matter, and when the albiceleste plays in a Football World Cup the country virtually stops every activity while millions and millions of people stuck to their televisions.

Argentina is one of the superpowers in terms of both football talents and awards, having won two Football World Cups (Argentina 1978 and Mexico 1986) hitherto and with a large list of historical great players of this sport like Alfredo Di Stefano, Omar Sívori, Oswaldo Ardiles, Mario Alberto Kempes, Diego Maradona, Omar Batistuta, Martín Palermo, Juan Román Riquelme, Lionel Messi and many others.

June 9, 2006. Inside the Berlin Olympiastadion Media Center.

British sports journalist David Miller, one of the greatest experts in the world on football. He was for many years chief sports correspondent of The Times and nowadays writes for The Daily Telegraph.

He has covered nothing less than 14 Football World Cups finals until now, along with 22 Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

He watched live the masterpiece goal by Pelé during the final of Sweden 1958 World Cup at the Rasunda Stadium of Solna, doing the stratopspheric and immortal hat over the defender Sven Axbom and the following goal beating Svensson, and also the best goal ever made in a Football World Championship, scored by Diego Maradona in the quarterfinal match Argentina-England of the México 1986 World Cup.

Dortmund (Germany). June 22, 2006. Group F match Japan vs Brazil of Germany 2006 World Cup.

A Brazilian fanatic of football with his most beloved treasure, the coveted golden Football World Cup.

Brazil, with a total figure of five trophies, is the country which has won it more times (Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, Brazil 1970, United States 1994 and Korea/Japan 2002).

In the visual memory of football lovers will be forever the plays made by Pelé (the best player ever along with Diego Maradona), Garrincha, Vavá, Zagalo, Rivelinho, Jairzinho, Carlos Alberto, Gerson, Zico, Dr. Sócrates, Ronaldo Nazario do Lima, Roberto Carlos, Romario, Ronaldinho and others.

Hannover (Germany). June 12, 2006. Italy vs Ghana round of 16 match of the Germany 2006 Football World Cup.

Italian supporters animating their national team.

Italy is other of the football superpowers, having won four World Cups (Italy 1934, France 1938, Spain 1982 and Germany 2006).

With a typical kind of play based on a great defense known as catenazzo and lethal very fast and well organized counterattacks, Italy has given to this sport oodles of top class players like Giuseppe Meazza, Giacinto Fachetti, Gianni Rivera, Gigi Riva, Sandro Mazzola, Claudio Bettega, Renato Causio, Dino Zoff, Paolo Rossi, Bruno Conti, Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti, Alessandro del Piero, Fabio Cannavaro and others, without forgetting some highly experienced coaches like Enzo Bearzot and Marcello Lippi.

Needless to say that Scudetto, the Italian first division football league has often had a significant percentage of the best players in the world, along with the Spanish League.

Dortmund (Germany). June 22, 2006. Japan vs Brazil Group F match of the Germany 2006 World Cup.

Elvis Aaron Presley, King of Rock & Roll, has arrived at North-Rhine Westphalia in a private Gulfstream G550 jet coming from Memphis (Tennessee), almost fifty years after doing his overseas military service in Germany between October 1, 1958 and March 2, 1960.

Having a penchant for thrilling matches, he has made a strenuous effort to be here and watch the contest live.

Brazilian football fans walking by the Dortmund Stadium a few hours before the Japan vs Brazil match of the Germany 2006 World Cup, clad in the traditional canarinha shirt. The number 10 is an institution within the history of Brazilian football, because it was used by Pelé, Zico, Ronaldinho and Neymar, while the number 7 was used by Jairzinho, great winger (he played the 1966, 1970 and 1974 World Cups) who replaced the unforgettable Garrincha, unanimously considered the best right winger ever, one of the foremost dribblers in history and MVP of Chile World Cup 1962.

The quest for tickets often becomes an obsession, since they´re most times sold out some months before the beginning of the competition.

Here we can see two Japanese football fans who after having saved money throughout the previous year, couldn´t get tickets for the Japan vs Brazil match at Dortmund Stadium.

In spite of it, they have taken risks and after a long 16 hour flight from Narita airport (Tokyo), they have arrived in the German city a few hours ago and are already inside a corridor of the Dortmund Hauptbahnhof Central Railway Station early in the morning on June 22, 2006, enduring the jet lag and looking for anybody who can sell them tickets.

Prices will skyrocket as the kick-off approaches.

Berlin (Germany). July 9, 2006 at midday. Two desperate football enthusiasts have stuck a makeshift paper advertisement to a street waste paper bin, asking for tickets for the Final Match Italy vs France slated to begin at 20:00 h in the Berlin Olympiastadion.

Berlin, June 29, 2006. Pelé Tube Station at Berlin Postdamer Platz. The legacy left by Edson Arantes Do Nascimento Pelé, the best football player of all time along with Diego Maradona, is immense, having won three World Cups (Sweden 1958, Chile 1962 and Mexico 1970) and having scored more than 1,200 goals with Santos and the Brazilian national team.

He was also a decisive player in two of the most formidable line-ups ever seen on a football ground: the Brazilian squad of 1958 and 1962 ( Gilmar, Djalma Santos, Orlando, Hideraldo Bellini), Nilton Santos, Zito, Didí, Garrincha, Mario Zagalo, Vavá and Pelé) and 1970 (Félix, Carlos Alberto, Brito, Everaldo, Piazza, Clodoaldo, Pelé, Tostao, Rivelino, Jairzinho and Gerson).

Frankenstadion of Nurember (Germany). June 25, 2006. Portugal vs Netherlands match of the Germany 2006 Football World Cup.

Portuguese supporters celebrate the goal scored by Maniche in the minute 23 of the first half.

This contest, known as The Battle of Nuremberg was one of the most disputed ever held in the history of the world cups, with both teams fighting tooth and nail for every ball and the referee Valentin Ivanov showing a FIFA World Cup record four red cards and sixteen yellow cards, after a widespread attrition war on the pitch.

The level of emotional intensity and frenzy which took place throughout this contest was even greater than the famous semifinal match England vs Portugal of the 1966 England World Cup held at Wembley Stadium, in which Portugal made a great performance and only the tremendous talent of Bobby Charlton — who scored the two English goals — could beat the Portuguese team, whose highly inspired Eusebio de Silva Ferreira, was the top goal scorer of the tournament with 9 goals, having been chosen European Golden Boot the previous year.

Forty years after the 1965 and 1966 seasons in which Portuguese football reached its highest successes, a new generation of players embodied by Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Maniche, Simao, Ricardo Carvalho, Pauleta and others was able to reach the fourth place in the Germany 2006 World Cup, after been beaten 3-1 by Germany in the match for the third place held on July 8, 2006 at the Gottlieb Daimler Stadion of Stuttgart.

Dutch supporters during the Battle of Nuremberg, a football match which could have been won by either squad and became a kind of Stalingrad on the soccer field, with both teams fighting ferociously for the victory and every player going all out until the last second of the match.

From early seventies, Holland turned into an international football power, firstly thanks to the outstanding performances of the legendary Ajax of Amsterdam coached by Rinus Michels, led by Johan Cruyff — then the best player in the world — and which had in its ranks such top-notch players as Wim Suurbier, Johan Neeskens, Arie Hann, Ruud Krol —  then the best sweeper in the world along with Franz Beckenbauer and Luiz Pereira), Barry Halshoff, Piet Keizer and others.

This amazing club brought about a revolution in the world football, thanks to the visionary concepts implemented by Rinus Michels and his Total Football, in which every player of the line-up had to be involved in both offensive and defensive tasks, for which was of paramount significance to gain a formidable physical condition and speed of movements, together with a steady interception of the rivals passes to have the ball possesion.

Therefore, the Dutch football held sway over the European football between 1971 and 1974, when Ajax of Amsterdam won three-in-a-row European Cup Finals (1971, 1972 and 1973).

This way, Holland arrived at the 1974 Germany World Cup with a fabulous squad (Jongbloed, Suurbier, Rijsbergen, Ari Hann, Ruud Krol, Jansen, Johann Neeskens, Van Hannegem, Johnny Rep, Johann Cruyff, Rensenbrink) that made a great tournament, with historical matches like the semifinal beating Brazil 2-0 (goals by Johann Neeskens and Johann Cruyff), subsequently losing the final match 2-1 against Germany.

Later on, Holland kept an excellent level in mid and late seventies, reaching the final of the Argentina 1978 World Cup, in which was beaten 3-2 by the host team, and in 2010 reached the final once more, been beaten 1-0 by Spain.

Frankfurt (Germany). June 10, 2006. England vs Paraguay match of the Germany 2006 World Cup.

Flags and banners of the English supporters during the contest, a classical riveting sight.

Any lover of football wishes to watch England play. It´s all the same if it wins or loses. They were the inventors of this sport and the English football has given the world some of the most glorious pages of the game.

Both the Premier League and the English national team grasp football as a show in its fully meaning, with  a historical focus in attack, opening the field with pure left and right wingers — Stanley Matthews, Ryan Giggs, John Barnes, John Robertson, Ashley Young, Chris Waddle and many others — in synergy with first-rate strikers — Gary Lineker, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer, Emile Hesky, Andrew Cole, Dwight Yorke, Jermaine Defoe, Teddy Sheringham, Ian Wright, Matthew Le Tissier, Robbie Fowler, etc.

English football is one of the most beautiful in existence, and has spawned some geniuses of this sport like Bobby Charlton (one of the best midfielders ever, featuring an exquisite individual technique, great game vision, accurate passing ability and a tremendous medium and long range shot), George Best (among the six best football players in history and able to do things on the field that nobody else could do after him) and David Beckham, without forgetting players giving their all on soccer fields like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and others.

Another of the highlights of the English football is the FA Cup, the oldest competition of this sport in the world and oozing thrill, since it is disputed through one match qualifying rounds, so teams from the lowest divisions can beat the most powerful clubs.

On the other hand, the legendary English goalkeeper Gordon "Chinese " Banks made the most stunning save in history avoiding a Brazilian goal after a header by Pelé. According to Physical Science, it should have been a goal, but Gordon Banks made the incredible save, to such an extent that the ball describes a vertical trajectory.

Leipzig Zentralstadion (Germany). June 24, 2006. Argentina vs México Round of 16 match of the Germany 2006 World Cup.

Two very young Mexican supporters inside the stadium, a few hours before the game, which would be won 2-1 by Argentina.

Mexico is another of the countries in which football is the most important national sport, with millions of fans all over its geography.

Though they haven´t been able to ever reach a quarterfinals, Mexican football has steadily increased its significance within internatio al competitions thanks to local legends like Antonio La Tota Carbajal ( FIF Order of Merit, after having played five world cups: 1950, 1954, 1958 and 1962), Cuauhtémoc Blanco (highest scorer of the Confederations Cup ever — 6 goals at the 1999 edition — along with Ronaldinho, Hugo Sánchez (best Mexican player of all time, who won ten titles with Real Madrid between 1985 and 1992 including five consecutive Spanish Leagues, one King´s Cup and one European UEFA Cup, was four times Top Scorer of the Spanish League and European Golden Boot during the 1989-90 season), Juan Francisco Palencia, Carlos Salcido, Jared Borgetti, Luis García, Javier Chicharito Hernández (who has played in Manchester United and Real Madrid), Rafael Márquez (one of the best defenders in the world, who won twelve titles in seven seasons with F.C Barcelona between 2003 and 2010 — including four Spanish Leagues, one King´s Cup, two Champions Laegues and one World Cup of Clubs — .

Mexican fans are an indispensable ingredient of any Football World Cup, because of their unique flamboyance, love for the game, showy attires and massive presence in the stands supporting their team.

23:45 h in the night of June 22, 2006. U-45 Stadion Station near the FIFA World Cup Stadium Dortmund (also called Signal Iduna Park and Westfalenstadion).

The Japan vs Brazil Group F match has ended around three quarters of an hour ago with Brazilian 1-4 victory, and most of the fans from both teams who weren´t able to get a hotel or pension room in advance have already taken positions inside the subway and train station to sleep as they can on the floor, because they have been without taken even a nap for almost two days since they left their countries and made air trips between 10 and 22 hour long to get to Germany.

This is a very hard experience to endure and these Japanese and Brazilian football fans are able to tackle it thanks to their passion and love for the game.

A high percentage of them have already fallen asleep, since they are absolutely exhausted, suffering from jet lags, and physically worn out, because they have given all of theirselves during the game supporting their squad and it has increased the tiredness.

They are at the end of their tether.

Meanwhile, a grown up marriage of Brazilian fans walks across the corridor which seems to be a battlefield ground.

The same place some hours later.

4:45 a.m of June 23, 2006 inside the U-45 Stadion Station beside the FIFA World Cup Stadium Dortmund.

The Japanese and Brazilian fans are destroyed, deeply slept and broken by weariness, but never surrendered.

They wanted to watch their beloved teams live in matches of a Football World Cup, the most important competition of this sport, and they have managed to do it.

This is a terrible scene but a good example of what human will is able to attain, because vast majority of these very young fans had exceedingly limited economical resources and had been saving money for a year to be able to attend to Germany 2006 World Cup, and they´ve achieved it, a real accomplishment bearing in mind the many hardships they have had to bear.

5:15 a.m. of June 23, 2006.

Another hall of the U-45 Stadion Station beside the FIFA World Cup Stadium Dortmund.

A Japanese football fan sleeping wrapped in a Hinomaru.

5:30 a.m of June 23, 2006.

A different area of the U-45 Stadion Station beside the FIFA World Cup Stadium Dortmund.

A further Japanese fan clad in the Japanese national football shirt is slept like a log, after having managed to lie on the ground in a rather narrow space, with his head leaned on the back wall and his feet resting on the front one.

Franz Beckenbauer, probably the best sweeper in the history of football,

spellbound while pointing at the golden Football World Cup 2006 on June 8, 2006, during the FIFA 56th Congress in Munich, one day before the beginning of the tournament with the Germany vs Costa Rica match.

Twent-six years before, he won the 1974 World Cup with Germany, beating Holland 2-1 in the final match with a great team coached by Helmut Schönn and made up by Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts, Franz Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck, Paul Breitner, Rainer Bonhof, Uli Hoeness, Wolfgang Overath, Grabowski, the great Gerd Müller (one of the best strikers in the history of football, with tremendous skill and able to score goals from every position with his powerful shots, particularly inside the box) and Holzenbein.

He has also been one of the most elegant players ever, along with Zinedine Zidane, Gaetano Scirea and Dr. Sócrates.

An Australian father with his very young son inside the Munich Hauptbahnhof Railway Central Station at half-past ten in the night of June 18, 2006, after the Brasil vs Australia Group F match of the Germany 2006 Football World Cup held at the Munich FIFA WM Stadion Munich, in which Brazil prevailed 2-0.

The Socceroos provide tons of exoticism and passion to the sport of football.

Though rugby is by far the national sport in Australia, football has experienced a great surge from early XXI Century, thanks to the international success of such players as Mark Viduka (a 1,88 m tank profile forward able to score from every position both with feet and headers, and exceedingly skillful for such a big man, who played at great level in European teams like Dinamo Zagreb, Celtic Glasgow, Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Nerwcastle United), Tim Cahill (a very good attacking midfielder and forward who played in Everton and New York Red Bulls), John Aloisi (a 1,84 m tremendously strong and quick striker who was a top scorer in Portsmouth, Coventry City, Osasuna and Alavés), Harry Kewell (winger and attacking midfielder who played in Leeds United, Liverpool and Galatasaray) and others.

Berlin, 19:45 h. A quarter of an hour before the great France vs Italy final match of the Germany 2006 Football World Cup.

In the middle of the image is Giuliano Bevilacqua, one of the best sports photographers in the world.

He was one of the photographers who covered beside the ring the mythical Joe Frazier vs Muhammad Ali Fight of the Century at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 8, 1971, with the first rows occupied by Frank Sinatra, Louis Amstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Norman Mailer, Woody Allen, Burt Lancaster, Barbra Steisand, Sammy Davis Jr and other celebrities.

He has photographed 12 Football World Cups, 24 Summer and Winter Olympic Games and has also photographed Ronald Reagan, Ingemark Stenmark, Jesse Owens, Frank Sinatra, Giovanni Agnelli, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachov, Joan Collins, Willy Brandt, Joe Louis, Liza Minelli, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Telly Savallas, David Niven, Gary Kaspárov and others.

Fabio Cannavaro raising the Germany 2006 Football World Cup at the Berlin Olympiastadion on July 9, 2006.

© Texto y Fotos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza