Ranking every official World Cup ball since 1970: Jabulani, Telstar, Tango…
For over half a century, Adidas have produced World Cup match balls which have created both memories and controversy.
The Adidas Innovation Team, partnering with the Molten Corporation, have produced every ball since England’s win in the 1966 World Cup, the last to feature the traditional brown leather.
We’ve taken a look at each ball since the redesign and decided which were the best looking, best performing and most memorable.
13. Tricolore – 1998
The final World Cup ball to feature the iconic Tango design, and the first multi-coloured ball at a World Cup finals . But the design had become a bit tired and had probably run its cause by 1998.
12. Questra – 1994
Again, it had all been done before with four Tango balls preceding the Questra at USA, and even the intricate design was rendered less impressive given what had gone before.
All #WorldCup balls, which one is your favourite?
— Emilio Sansolini (@EmilioSansolini) June 4, 2018
11. Telstar Durlast – 1974
This was the first polyurethane coated ball, which meant that it was waterproof and resistant to wear and tear, though the design was pretty much the same as the previous tournament.
10. Tango Espana – 1982
In a similar vein, the ball was no different to its iconic predecessor. Supposedly strengthened to be more water resistant, this proved unsuccessful and led to the ball requiring to be changed several times during some games.
If someone crossed the Tango España to me in the 88th minute of the World Cup Final & I had to score to win, a large part of me would just want to catch it & look at it.
— Jamie (@Kennybelieveit) June 5, 2018
9. Etrusco Unico – 1990
More intricate than the original Tango and the Espana, the official ball for Italia ’90 was the fourth in the Tango series and it was around the time Adidas should have changed it up.
8. Fevernova – 2002
The principle behind the first post-Tango ball is good, but the fact that it is simply printed images on the ball leaves it behind other future efforts which incorporate the design into the stitching.
Used at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea & Japan.
The one that David Beckham drilled that penalty in against Argentina with.
Also, the one that Ronaldinho lobbed David Seaman with.
Arguably the 🐐 when it comes to World Cup balls. pic.twitter.com/YUWKumJMJ9
— Coral (@Coral) May 20, 2018
7. Brazuca – 2014
Now we are talking. Brazil’s thermally-bonded ball from 2014 was named by the fans and fit in with the vibrant tournament thanks to its multicoloured design.
It was made from just six panels, the reduction supposedly increasing the consistency of the ball, while the name is slang for Brazilian, used by natives to describe their national pride.
6. Telstar 18 – 2018
A development on the traditional Telstar, the ball for Russia 2018 features the start of black hexagons which then smartly fade away into grey pixels.
It also has six panels, which are textured and glued together, and was unveiled in 2017 by Lionel Messi, the holder of the Golden Ball.
5. Azteca – 1986
Part of the Tango family, the Azteca was a staple of the tournament in Mexico 1986, with the intricate design capturing Mexican heritage brilliantly.
The name of the ball was also written across one of the panels, incorporating the Adidas three-stripe perfectly in a very smart and memorable design.
6. Adidas Tango 'Azetca' (1986)
The cattle-friendly Azteca was the first World Cup ball made of synthetic materials, boosting its durability pic.twitter.com/TZ9zqjKyrQ
— Look What it Means to Him (@LWIMTH) August 23, 2017
4. Telstar – 1970
The Telstar, developed by former goalkeeper Eigil Nielsen, changed the image of footballs for good.
It was the first ball to feature a hexagonal/pentagonal design, which is now the recognised image for a football worldwide, originally introduced to help supporters recognise the ball on their black and white television sets.
3. Tango – 1978
Or to use its full name, the Tango Durlast, this was the first in the family which became iconic to supporters during the 80s and 90s.
It featured the same panelling system as the Telstar, but with a smart design giving the illusion of circles around the ball, and our gaffer is extremely disappointed that it doesn’t make it to No.1.
2. Jabulani – 2010
The controversial ball used in South Africa was made up of eight panels, which apparently made its trajectory extremely unpredictable and caused unwarranted problems for goalkeepers.
However, the ball will go down in history not only for its controversy, but also for its beauty, again fitting perfectly with the competition it was designed for and being undoubtedly memorable.
1. Teamgeist – 2006
Germany 2006 followed the 2004 European Championship in having an unbelievably memorable ball which every Millennial will appreciate in all its glory.
It was the first ball to vary from the 32 panels initially introduced in 1970, as 14 curved panels made up the glorious design, though were questioned for making the ball too light. Who cares, though, it looks bloody beautiful.
No World Cup ball will ever beat the +teamgeist 🇩🇪 pic.twitter.com/51XNxOyubc
— BrianC🍫🌼 (@nairB_18) November 9, 2017