Adidas have unveiled a reinvention of the iconic Telstar ball for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The Telstar 18 commemorates 50 years since it was first used – for the 1968 European Championship – but how does its history intertwine with the World Cup itself?
Sportsmail reflects on the history.
The Telstar – Mexico 1970
The World Cup in Mexico in 1970 was momentous not just because England headed out there as reigning champions.
It was also the very first FIFA World Cup to be televised around the globe, so organisers marked the occasion by having Adidas design the first ever ball just for the tournament itself.
There were 32 black pentagonal panels, 12 of which were black to make it more visible on black and white television. It was named it after the Telstar satellite. It had gold branding across it with the name of the ball, the tournament and adidas across it.
The black and white pattern helped players to see the spin of the ball as it travelled through the air, while makers claimed the panels helped them to create ‘the most spherical ball yet’.
To this day, the Adidas Telstar remains the common design template for all generic football balls.
As for the competition itself, England were knocked out in the quarter-final by West Germany he tournament was won by Brazil.
The Telstar Durlast – Germany 1974
Such was the success of the previous World Cup’s Telstar that Adidas only replaced the gold branding with black branding for the World Cup in Germany 1974.
Other than a slight change in appearance, the only other difference was its polyurethane coating which provided waterproofing for the ball as well as protection from damage such as scuffs and tears.
West Germany were victorious on home soil on this occasion.
The Tango – Argentina 1978
By now, Adidas were well into the pattern of choosing names appropriate for the host nation, so ‘Tango’ was the name chosen for the ball used in Argentina in 1978.
It was the first to feature the adidas trademark, which was a printed design of interconnected curved-edge triangles known as ‘triads’.
Like the previous competition, the hosts emerged victorious having faced Holland in the final. Argentina ran out 3-1 winners.
The Tango Espana – Spain 1982
This was the first ball to be made of a mix of leather and synthetic material.
It was again composed of 32 hand sewn panels, with the same black and white Tango design: curved triangles printed on every hexagon, which formed circles around the 12 pentagonal panels.
The tournament’s top scorer was Paolo Rossi of Italy with six goals, including a hat-trick in a second group game against Brazil and one in the final – which the Italian side won 3-1 against Germany.
The Azteca – Mexico 1986
This was a completely new model, developed for the World Cup in Mexico. Made of synthetic material in layers, each with different properties to give strength to the ball, it was able to retain its shape and be fully waterproof.
The Azteca Mexico was a hand-sewn ball, and for the first time, synthetic material, rather than leather was used to produce it.
With its never-before-achieved performance on hard ground, at high altitude and in wet conditions, Azteca represented a massive leap forward for the game. Its elaborately decorated design was inspired by the hosting nation’s native Aztec architecture and murals.
In the final match, Argentina captain Maradona sent a perfectly weighted pass to Jorge Burruchaga, who slotted the ball in to make it 3-2 – which sealed victory .
The Etrusco – Italy 1990
The 1990 ball featured an Etruscan lion within their design. The ball was again manufactured entirely from fully synthetic fibre layers, including one of latex to create stability and resistance to tearing.
In the final, Argentina met Germany for the second World Cup running. The only goal in a very poor game came from an 85th-minute penalty after Voller had been brought down in the area. Brehme’s spot kick won the match for the Germans.
At the World Cup this year, Franz Beckenbauer became only the second man to win a World Cup both as a player and a manager.
The Questra – USA 1994
Inspired by space technology, high velocity rockets and America’s ‘quest for the stars’, the USA 1994 match ball was named the Questra.
The technical development for the Questra took place in the adidas center for ball development in France, followed by test games in France, Germany and the USA with professional players, amateurs and youth teams.
Enveloped in a layer of polystyrene foam, the Questra had greater ball acceleration when kicked, felt softer to the touch gave players better ball control.
Thanks to a brilliant goal by Claudio Taffarel’s, Brazil won their fourth FIFA World Cup.
The Tricolore – France 1998
The Tricolore used red-white-blue of the France flag. The ball itself was based on an entirely new synthetic material featuring ‘syntactic foam’, claiming to give better compression and more explosive rebound characteristics than its predecessor.
The foam was made up of gas-filled micro-bubbles that distributed energy equally when the ball was kicked.
France, the team that had been an unlucky semi-finalist in both 1982 and 1986, got to the final on home soil and defeated Brazil 3-0, with Zinedine Zidane emerging as a star of the competition.
The Fevernova – Japan/South Korea 2002
This was the result of three years of improvement on the ‘Tricolore’ at the adidas research centre in Scheinfeld in southern Germany.
The adidas triad design had now become two single, enlarged triads with the points turning into clockwise arrows in the colours of grey, red and gold.
The background was no longer a traditional pure white but more of a champagne colour. Over 2,500 balls were supplied for the finals and an estimated six million of the high-quality match balls and replica-quality balls were sold worldwide.
Brazil won the tournament in 2002, a brace from Ronaldo leading the way to a 2-0 victory over Germany.
The Teamgeist – Germany 2006
Widely considered as one of the best balls for the World Cup. FIFA heralded it as ‘a revolutionary 14-panel ball configuration’ which allowed players ‘to show their true skills, as the quality and performance characteristics were identical every time they kicked the ball.’
It also underwent rigorous scientific testing by the Sports Technology Research Group of the University of Loughborough, one of the leading institutions of its kind worldwide.
These tests confirmed the Teamgeist was more round, precise and consistent than any other competitive match ball.
Italy won the tournament in 2006, claiming their fourth World Cup title by defeating France in the final on penalties.
The Jabulani – South Africa 2010
The Jabulani, which means ‘to celebrate’ in Zulu, was adorned in 11 colours in tribute to Adidas’ 11 previous World Cup balls.
It used for the first time ‘grip and groove’ technology – thermally-bonded panels twisting around the ball for extra aerodynamics.
But it was met with a storm of criticism from players during the tournament.
Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar compared it to a ‘supermarket’ ball that favored strikers and worked against goalkeepers
Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon said: ‘The new model is absolutely inadequate and I think it’s shameful letting play such an important competition, where a lot of champions take part, with a ball like this.’
In the final, Spain, the European champions, defeated third-time finalists the Netherlands 1–0 after extra time, with Andres Iniesta’s goal in the 116th minute giving Spain their first world title – the first European nation to win the tournament outside its home continent.
Brazuca – Brazil 2014
With the Jabulani far from popular, the pressure was on FIFA and adidas to ensure the latest instalment of the World Cup ball merited more positive coverage.
What came was the ‘Brazuca’, of which the unique scientific feature was that it had six polyurethane panels which were bonded to keep the ball the same weight and roundness in heavy rain.
The design was based upon the 2013 Champions League final ball – Finale 13 – rather than the much maligned Jabulani.
When the tournament itself began there were very little complaints about the ball – probably the best indicator that the design was a success. Germany lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in Brazil.