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'Gazza kissed his jersey and it was clear he had been crying' - The story behind that iconic image

Inpho founder Billy Stickland is responsible for one of the most famous photographs from Italia 90.

THE IMAGE OF Paul Gascoigne, England shirt pressed against his mouth, in a fit of tears after their elimination from the 1990 World Cup semi-finals, is an iconic sporting photograph.

Gazza had played like a man possessed against eventual winners West Germany that night in Turin, but couldn’t prevent Bobby Robson’s men going out of the competition via a penalty shootout after missed spot-kicks from Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle.

Spurs’ mercurial midfielder had broke down in the 99th minute after picking up a yellow card which would keep him out of the final if England progressed. It made little odds in the end, however, as the Three Lions were undone by their bitter rivals.

West German players celebrate 4/7/1990 The German players celebrate after winning on penalties. Source: David Cannon

Billy Stickland, founder of Inpho Sports Photography, spent the month in Italy covering the finals and captured that famous moment at full-time. He described the events in his own words to The42 recently:

“The 1990 World Cup was amazing. It really was one of the best sports events ever. I always felt that Italia 90 was the absolute peak of Jack Charlton era as the team and the Irish public all came together. It was fantastic and definitely one of the highlights of my life.

“People say that there is a big element of luck in photography but I just felt that I was so much in the mood during that tournament that everything worthwhile seemed to happen in front of me.

Paul Gascoigne was part of that but I also got the Cameroon players all jumping on top of each other, Niall Quinn’s goal and Packie Bonner’s save. It was a really great time for me.

“Inpho had been founded but I was also working for Getty Images so I attended more matches than usual and that’s why I was at the semi-final between West Germany and England.

“I remember not being too bothered who won the game. There were a few incidents that were caught on television that us photographers missed like when Gascoigne got booked and Gary Lineker gestured at Bobby Robson to keep an eye on him.

“At the end of the game, all the photographers were packing up and the England players were walking around applauding the fans and Gascoigne came over towards me. He turned around and kissed his jersey and it was clear he had been crying. I just hadn’t packed up as early as everyone else so that’s how it happened.

Paul Gascoigne cries at the end of the semi-final against Germany Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“I’m amazed as very few people have captured it. Looking back, it seemed like an obvious thing to focus on but I must have been fortunate. It is one of those photographs that isn’t actually a great picture but it’s good because what it represents and who is in it.

“Paul Gascoigne mania exploded during that tournament and he came back a huge hero, then subsequently his life went into a downward spiral. The English tabloids just pounced on him and didn’t let him go. They still haven’t let him go.”

Click here for more of The42’s commemorative coverage >

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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