When Leicester got into the Champions League, I went to Copenhagen courtesy of some free tickets. I ditched the cameras and just went and got absolutely smashed. I saw this lad knocking about at the bar and it was his stag do. They had made this really snazzy jacket – he looks brilliant, doesn’t he? I only had my iPhone on me, so I said: “I’ve got to get your picture, will you come outside?” So I did it on my iPhone and just emailed it off to the office and said: “Can you put this on the wire?” And within 15 minutes the Champions League Twitter account had published this picture. What a jacket that is. He’s married now. He won’t fit into it!
I do like the older stadiums and Camp Nou is an iconic ground. I’m very aware that it is going to change soon, that they’ve got plans to redevelop it, so I wanted to get up there and photograph it in all its glory. When you’re at the bottom, where the photographers’ positions are, at pitch side, you can’t really tell what the sky is doing so it was only after I’d climbed up 200 stairs, sweating, that I could look out and go: “Oh okay, there’s a sunset over there.” I walked all the way round and thought, “This is going to be nice” and then every single person in the stadium lifted up a tifo card and it was like hitting the jackpot.
This is Sergio Ramos’s last-minute equaliser in a Madrid derby in a Champions League final, which is obviously a massive deal. Games build and build and build – Atlético had a 1-0 lead and Real Madrid were piling on pressure. You know if someone scores, it’s going to be huge but you only get one chance to photograph these massive moments. After I took it, I didn’t know I’d got the picture. It’s only when you look at the back of your camera and start scrolling through – “Please be there” – and yeah, it was there. What I like is it’s quite wide, so you can see all the different players battling for it. Without seeing the TV, you can tell what kind of goal it is.
I love photographing players taking corners. Because they’re close to the photographers’ positions, you can shoot it on a ‘widey’, which gets all the atmosphere in and all the floodlights. And as they run up to kick it, they make a really good, strong shape. Photography is using a split-second to show people what they missed when everything’s moving. When you see it still, it tells you about the scale and the emotion of things and you can reflect on it. You aren’t watching what’s going to happen next, you’re literally just looking at it for what it is. Here you’ve got the power of the corner and the pressure on that player who’s got to whip a cross in with all those people watching.
The day before big games, you are allowed in to photograph a little bit of training. You get 15 minutes. So, within that time, you have got to try and get the star players, the manager, the players that might or might not be in the team, and it’s really pressed. On this occasion, I saw them in a line, warming up, running into the shadow and I suspected it would look quite nice. So I moved round and exposed for the sun – which sent everything else dark – and it was really nice to be able to get a picture that I was pleased with from such a short 15-minute spell of training.
Photographers miss Mourinho. He was always brilliant. You always waited for him to explode and do something. As it approached the end of the match, the Camp Nou was incredibly tense because it was such a close game. You sit there, waiting on him, hoping that he’s going to do something – which he probably is. And what I like about it is his nemesis, Pep Guardiola, is in the background. He’s walking over to try and shake Mourinho’s hand, but he’s not having any of it – he’s off. Like I say, photographers miss Mourinho, because of moments like this.
Well, this is a funny picture. Sevilla scored a really important goal to knock Man United out of the Champions League, which is obviously a massive story. But as the player scores, he runs past – and it’s only when you go back and look at the pictures, you realise that you have somehow got a picture of him with four legs and four arms. I like it because, at a really intense time in the knockout stages of the competition, when Man United’s Champions League dreams are crumbling, Mourinho’s struggling and Sevilla are celebrating a huge victory, actually there’s just a really funny picture that comes out of it.
I noticed that the big ad boards – which are normally a photographer’s worst nightmare because they distract from the action – had this ‘priceless’ banner on for Mastercard. And it dawned on me that you could photograph a player in front of it. And obviously, there’s no point photographing a rubbish player in front of it, so I was thinking, “Hopefully I’ll get to photograph Messi”. It just so happened that he was doing his Lionel Messi thing, dribbling down the wing, and he’d got no one around him and he was almost perfectly framed in the middle. So it’s one of those situations where, yeah, it’s lucky. I’d been thinking about it and thinking about it, and I was there at the moment when it happened.