Suárez, Neymar Jr and Leo Messi in the famous picture taken against Atlético Madrid /Albert Gea (Reuters)

Camp Nou, 11 January 2015. The 86th minute of the league match between FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. Luis Suárez collects the ball on the left and crosses to Leo Messi, who controls it and sends a pass forward to Iván Rakitic. A one-two later and the Argentinian spots Neymar Jr trying to lose his marker. Messi slips near the penalty spot but the ball gets a lucky bounce and he’s back on his feet in a flash to score his team’s third goal.

It’s 3-1 and game over and the crowd goes wild. Meanwhile, Neymar Jr hugs Messi and they run to the wing in search of Suárez to get him to join their celebration. The trio run arm in arm and Reuters photographer Albert Gea is there with his Canon to grab the moment for posterity in a photograph that is sure to continue appearing in the club’s pictorial histories for years.

Well equiped

Gea (Barcelona, 1977) has worked at the Camp Nou along with his prestigious teacher Gustau Nacarino for 14 seasons. When FC Barcelona are attacking towards the North Goal he rarely positions himself on the touchline by the grandstand, but that is exactly where he was when he got the famous picture.

When he’s at the stadium, Gea usually has three cameras and three different lenses. The one he used for this particular shot was a Canon EOS 1 DX, with a 70-200 / 2.8 Series L lens.

""We normally work with a 400” he explains to Barça Magazine. “But I remember that at that moment, when Suárez started the counter attack, and I saw that there was going to be action in the penalty area, I switched to a shorter lens. It was the right thing to do, because Neymar, after Messi scored, started celebrating and linked arms with Suárez and Messi and ran towards the grandstand, more or less in a direct line to where I was positioned. I started taking rapid fire photos, about nine a second, and then I switched to a wide lens.”

Speaking before the game with Deportivo, where the Liga title was celebrated and Xavi was honoured for his departure from the club, Gea adds that "I was lucky because I instinctively changed the camera before anyone else did. I moved to a shorter lens and that meant the three players were perfectly framed in the picture. Other photographers got some good pictures too but didn’t catch the scene quite as completely as I could. The key was my lens and my position next to the pitch”.

As the players continued their celebrations, Gea already knew that he’d got the best photo of the game, and perhaps of the season and of the famous trident.

"There weren’t many pictures of the three of them together until that moment” he says. “I was convinced. I took the card pout of the camera and inserted it in my 11” MacBook Air. I uploaded about 40 pictures and picked the best versions, full body, waist upwards, the three heads, the different smiles … And then I sent them off. The photo was a worldwide sensation and appeared in some of the biggest newspapers in the world.”

A large format version of that famous picture now hangs on the wall of the FC Barcelona Communication Department, and is still being used time and time again whenever Barça’s famous forward line deliver yet more of their magic.

Magic moments

This is the latest of many iconic photos of Barça over the years. Others include the famous one of Evaristo scoring with a raised foot (Carlos Pérez de Rozas), Cruyff’s amazing leap (Horaci Seguí), Rivaldo’s overhead kick (Jordi Cotrina) and Koeman’s free kick at Wembley (Agustí Carbonell). But there has perhaps never been one that has so well summed up the magic of a single season, in which the MSN trident made so much history, as Gea’s marvellous shot.

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