"The secret of football is the ball", as German legend Uwe Seeler so eloquently put it, and billions of fans will certainly agree with him. Football is by far the more popular sport on the planet, making the FIFA World Cup™ one of the most important sporting events around the world.
Sporting goods manufacturer adidas have been responsible for the official FIFA World Cup ball since Mexico 1970, but what did they play with before then? Different balls were used for the first and second halves of the first ever FIFA World Cup Final in 1930, since the two finalists insisted on using "their own ball". From then onwards, the host country was allowed to supply the balls.
To begin with, the ball was generally made out of 12 parts, before an 18-piece ball was used at the 1954 FIFA World Cup Final, various versions of which were then in service until 1966.
The development of the football over the next few decades carried on with experts constantly trying to invent the "perfect ball". The adidas era began in Mexico 40 years ago, and this was when the balls were first given a name. The "Telstar" was made up of 32 special leather panels which made it the roundest ball of its era.
After the "Durlast" came the "Tango" which was way ahead of its time in 1978 – so much so that it was used as a model for the ball at the following five FIFA World Cups. "Tango Espana" in 1982 saw the advent of the synthetic ball – still made primarily of leather, but its water-resistant polyurethane layer made it a true product of the high-tech age. "Azteca", "Etrusco" and "Questra" were in the same mould.
The "Tricolore" in 1998 was the first coloured ball to be used, whilst the 2002 and 2006 tournaments were treated to the revolutionary "Fevernova" and "+Teamgeist" balls which were rounder, more accurate and more durable.
In South Africa, it will be the "Jabulani", made up of a mere eight synthetic panels, which the teams will have to put in the back of the net. This is the 11th official FIFA World Cup ball which adidas has created, and this one is the most stable and accurate football of all time, proving that impossible truly is nothing!