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The man whose sports images really grabbed

Monte Fresco turned a handicap to his advantage to take iconic football photographs

    Fresco’s famous 1966 shot of Spurs’ captain Dave Mackay squaring up to Leeds United’s Billy Bremner
    Fresco’s famous 1966 shot of Spurs’ captain Dave Mackay squaring up to Leeds United’s Billy Bremner

    Being blind in one eye might be regarded as a handicap for a photographer, but not for Monte Fresco.

    Mr Fresco, who has died at the age of 77, was the doyen of Fleet Street sports photographers, covering seven football World Cups and taking some of the game’s most famous images

    According to his son, Mat, his partial blindness “gave him a unique advantage. While others could have one eye on the game and the other to observe things around them, my father could only follow the game. And he wouldn’t necessarily just follow the ball. He would pay close attention to the movement on the field”

    It was this focus that “enabled him to capture famous shots, like the one of Vinnie Jones ‘tackling’ Paul Gascoigne,” said Mat.

    “He wasn’t afraid to be fun and naughty. He would banter with the people he was photographing. He pulled out the human element by doing that.

    Vinnie Jones ‘tackling’ Paul Gascoigne, captured by Fresco in 1988
    Vinnie Jones ‘tackling’ Paul Gascoigne, captured by Fresco in 1988

    Monte, who spent most of his career at the Daily Mirror, became friends with many of the famous sportsmen he photographed.

    “It was extraordinary to be at home and have Paul Gascoigne call up and ask to speak to my dad,” recalled Mat.

    “The whole Spurs first team turned up to my brother’s barmitzvah. That was really special.

    Only days after Monte passed away, his grandson was born. Mat said: “My wife gave birth to our son on Sunday, and we are going to call him Monte. We discussed it with my father before he died and he was very pleased with the idea.”

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