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Shooting Stars

Getty Images photographer Michael Regan has been shooting the Champions League for the past 20 years. Here he explains the stories behind some of his favourite pics

INTERVIEW Rebecca Hopkins | PHOTOGRAPHY Michael Regan (Getty images)

I’m sitting in a pub in Leicester with photographer Michael Regan and we’re chatting about the time his passion and profession dovetailed – resulting in one of his favourite pictures. It’s a view from the stands at the Champions League quarter-final between his team Leicester City and Atlético Madrid in April 2017.

“This is an emotional picture to look at because I see it as the peak of Leicester’s being on the European stage,” he says. “Our ground had transformed and it was a ferocious atmosphere there for two years because we’d got such a good team.

“I’m pathetic, I’m still a 12-year-old Leicester fan. It’s all I ever talk about. I wanted to show us off and say, ‘Look how amazing it is here at the moment’. And it went down really well on social media. Leicester fans have still got it as their banners.

Michael Regan's shot ahead of Leicester’s quarter-final second leg three seasons ago
Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

I’m sitting in a pub in Leicester with photographer Michael Regan and we’re chatting about the time his passion and profession dovetailed – resulting in one of his favourite pictures. It’s a view from the stands at the Champions League quarter-final between his team Leicester City and Atlético Madrid in April 2017.

“This is an emotional picture to look at because I see it as the peak of Leicester’s being on the European stage,” he says. “Our ground had transformed and it was a ferocious atmosphere there for two years because we’d got such a good team.

“I’m pathetic, I’m still a 12-year-old Leicester fan. It’s all I ever talk about. I wanted to show us off and say, ‘Look how amazing it is here at the moment’. And it went down really well on social media. Leicester fans have still got it as their banners.

Michael Regan's shot ahead of Leicester’s quarter-final second leg three seasons ago
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“I wasn’t supposed to be covering the game, I was on an assignment doing something for Chelsea. But I drove back on the night in between, just to stand among the fans and do this shot. I blagged in as an assistant, borrowed a camera because I didn’t have any of my own with me. I wanted to be at the game.

“And it all worked out. I didn’t realise there was going to be smoke coming down, I didn’t realise there was going to be the flags. It’s got symmetry, it’s the right time of day so there’s detail in the sky. You’ve got the eyes, which say ‘fox’. It’s one of those pictures that you love it so much, you forget that you took it.”

Technology has transformed sports photography since Regan first started developing films, and then taking match pics, 20 years ago for a small agency not far from where we’re talking.

“In the olden days, everything was shot on film and film was expensive. You needed to be absolutely sure you had half a chance of getting a picture before you took one. You’d take maybe ten rolls of 36. Now, I might take 2,000 pictures sat at pitch side. Picture desks and the industry see tens of thousands of photos more than they used to. The world is saturated with football images, so it’s really tricky to stand out.”

Yet Regan’s images do just that, and he relishes the relentless challenge of it all. “You might get the best picture of your life within the next 30 seconds – you just never know what’s going to happen. I like to think that in my pictures I see a broader view of football and so there’s a lot there to keep you going.”

His point about the broader view is significant, for Regan has captured some of the most memorable moments in the Champions League in recent years. Here is a photographer who lives, breathes and almost certainly dreams about football.

“You know, my dad used to drag me down to Leicester and take me to some real dodgy pubs. So from a young age, I knew that football was this massively important thing to people. Football came from people being tribal and people being proud of where they came from and people wanting to represent their own town and wanting their city to be better than the other city. And that is innate in human nature – it causes wars and it causes football matches.”

We have a picture of Wayne Rooney (above) in front of us – a player who encapsulates football to Regan. “He’d had a massive cut on his head a few weeks previously, so he’d got this big bandage that he had to wear for when he headed the ball. The bandage says something about Wayne Rooney. It says that he was a bit of a scrapper and a street footballer from the north of England and yet here he is on this big stage.

“It’s one of those moments where the composition all just lines up. When you get that line between someone looking at something that they care about, it puts you straight into that emotion.

“Wayne Rooney loves his football. The pomp and the ceremony is there in the background of this picture but actually he just f***ing loves to play football. There’s the football, give me the football, I just f***ing love to play football.”

Regan mulls over the continued influence of photography in a world flooded with every conceivable media. Maybe it’s photography’s paradoxical ability to slow everything right down and strip away, which allows it to say more, to say something powerful and unique.

“It shows you moments that you can relate to but you just don’t see with the naked eye,” he says. “A good picture will tell a story within a split-second in ways that other mediums can’t. Words – you have got to read them. Video – you have got to watch the duration of it. So, for that reason, photography is still alive and kicking and extremely important. You’ll never be able to touch that. Thank God.

“And don’t ask me why black-and-white pictures are sometimes better than colour pictures either because I can’t answer. Everyone knows that’s the case but no one can quite put their finger on it. It’s magic, isn’t it. There’s a bit of magic to photography that is hard to break down.”

READ MORE: Photographer Michael Regan picks his favourite images.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

I’m sitting in a pub in Leicester with photographer Michael Regan and we’re chatting about the time his passion and profession dovetailed – resulting in one of his favourite pictures. It’s a view from the stands at the Champions League quarter-final between his team Leicester City and Atlético Madrid in April 2017.

“This is an emotional picture to look at because I see it as the peak of Leicester’s being on the European stage,” he says. “Our ground had transformed and it was a ferocious atmosphere there for two years because we’d got such a good team.

“I’m pathetic, I’m still a 12-year-old Leicester fan. It’s all I ever talk about. I wanted to show us off and say, ‘Look how amazing it is here at the moment’. And it went down really well on social media. Leicester fans have still got it as their banners.

Michael Regan's shot ahead of Leicester’s quarter-final second leg three seasons ago
Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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