September 27, 2023

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Capturing Lionel Messi’s Viral Moment: The story behind the most liked photo on Instagram, told by the photographer who captured it


Lionel Messi He sits on Sergio Aguero’s shoulders, both hands clasped firmly on his shoulder world Cup The cup he holds aloft.

A broad smile etched across his face, his eyes glowing; It’s a moment of pure, raw joy, the culmination of My life dream After years of World Cup heartbreaks, it was all captured in a split second.

it’s a picture Messi Choose download to celebrate it World Cup victory Over France — now the most-liked post in Instagram history, eclipsing regular brown eggs — and captured by a Getty photographer Sean Bottrellwho sat front row to one of the most iconic moments in sports history.

Bottrell says the photographers at Sunday’s World Cup final devised a plan for one of them to go and stand on the pitch in front of the billboards next to the main stand that held the vast majority of Argentina fans at Lusail Stadium.

After Messi spent some time with his family after the trophy was presented, the Argentina captain began making his way into the crowd, prompting photographers to rush towards the goal at the end of the field.

“I almost got cornered, but I got cornered in the right place,” Bottrell told CNN. “I think most of us are [photographers] Honest, you always need a little luck and I got a bit on Sunday night.

“Messi was just there and didn’t move much, sometimes you would be pushed, and he would do all the chops, with one hand, two hands on the cup.

“We had no idea what would happen in the end. You can plan to lift the trophy, but you can’t plan to run and not know how messy it will be. I was so close to him, maybe two meters max.

“It feels totally weird, it’s a bit surreal, you go: ‘Holy s**t’, it’s right there where you want it to be and it doesn’t happen often.

Even his hands are up [with the trophy]I think the way he’s holding hands and smiling, he’s definitely having a moment with the fans.”

Bottrell also took this photo of the trophy lift where Messi is wearing a black and gold bisht - a traditional piece of clothing worn in the region for special occasions and celebrations.

As Aguero, Messi’s former Argentina teammate who retired in December 2021 after being diagnosed with an arrhythmia, carried his friend away towards the other side of the stand, Botterill immediately grabbed a cable from one of the distant cameras behind the goal, hooking him up. into his camera and sent the photo to the editors.

By chance, Bottrell’s son happened to be working in the editorial office that night.

“My eldest sent me a message and said, ‘Dad, I edited your picture, it’s a very beautiful picture,'” Bottrell recalled.

His son’s remarks proved an understatement.

In the immediate aftermath, “Bottrell realized it was a very good picture”—modesty clearly runs in the family—but there’s always the concern that another photographer with a slightly different angle might have taken a better picture, as “small margins” can make a picture The best big difference.

The British photographer admits that the crop Messi used on Instagram wasn’t his favorite version of the image, with the wider view providing more context and better capturing the adulation the Argentina captain was receiving.

Even after a career that began at the 1986 World Cup, Bottrell says those moments still seem fantastical.

“I actually remember thinking: ‘Oh my Blemmy, how did I end up where I am? “Because in these situations, you are bound by where the masses push you.

“When I look back, you can’t believe the guy in front of you is standing on Sergio Aguero’s shoulders, holding the World Cup, showing it to his fans.

“You’ve got that effect, right? He has a happy face, he has joy, the cup and he looks kind of messy.”

As someone who doesn’t have a social media account, Bottrell says he was initially completely oblivious to the fact that his photo had made history.

On Wednesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that Messi’s Instagram post, which was topped by a Bottrill snap, broke the record for most likes in the app’s history. She now has over 72 million likes — and counting.

Posted in 2019, the photo of eggs that Messi’s post raped for the record has now amassed 57 million likes.

“This is the funny thing for me because I’m not on Instagram, and I don’t even know how to crop an Instagram photo,” says Botterill.

“To me, it’s funny, the fact that you have this guy who’s 55 and not on Instagram and he has two sons who thinks it’s the funniest thing ever.

The youngest of them said: (62 million, father). I’m from a small town in Northampton so it’s very strange.

“It’s kind of crazy because … I had no idea what was going on,” Bottrell adds. “It was only when a colleague messaged me and said, ‘Oh, did you see the number of likes [your photo has]? ‘

“So it’s a little ironic that I’m suddenly not that old guy on social media who, obviously on the back of a great footballer, puts a little taken photo. So it’s really funny – I got off the plane and didn’t know what the hell was going on” .

After 36 years in the industry, Botterill says he still feels the same passion and excitement he had at the age of 18 when he was just starting out when trying to capture iconic moments in the sport.

Picture perfect...Bottrell has been covering the world's biggest sporting events for decades...
Come wind, rain or snow...
or ice...

After covering the World Cup for the first time in 1986 as an editor, Botterill took a break from his career and turned down the opportunity to go to the 1990 World Cup because he was too busy scaffolding. He returned to photography for the 1994 World Cup coverage and has been in every edition since.

Born near the English town of Northampton in 1967, Bottrell got his first break at the age of 16 at the agency founded by famous sports photographer Bob Thomas, who worked in a darkroom.

Given his huge portfolio and the number of major events he’s covered, Botterill struggles to choose his favorite photo.

He reveals that paparazzi are “kind of funny”, rarely staying too long in a moment, instead always looking forward to the “next decent photo”.

When it all comes together, as it did Sunday at Lucille Stadium, Bottrell takes a moment to enjoy it.

“I think when you get a picture of a player or a sports person who is really out there, you know, they can debate Is he the greatest of all; Is it Pele? Is it Maradona?” he says.

But the point is [Messi] It’s in there, so if you get a really nice picture of a great player, it’s kind of a nice feeling.

“It’s cool, it’s cool, it’s incredible. That kind of gives you the buzz, for a really good picture.”

“Everyone else can decide what they think about the picture, but it’s a really great picture of one of the greatest players ever, so that’s the most beautiful thing for me. That’s why you have to work.”

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