Iconic moments: Brandi Chastain

When the 1999 World Cup final penalty shoot-out led to one of the most iconic pics in women’s football history

Iconic moments: Brandi Chastain

There are few more iconic images in women’s football than that of Brandi Chastain on her knees, sports bra out, fists raised after she put away the winning penalty in the shoot-out of the 1999 World Cup final. 

The defender had a mixed tournament. It started with a costly mistake and ended with her scoring the decisive penalty (the fifth of a shoot-out) in front of 90,000 screaming fans at the Rose Bowl. The resulting image perfectly captures the harmony of women’s football. The feminine and masculine dichotomy served up in one instinctual celebration the former international has described as, “momentary insanity, nothing more, nothing less.” 

From Chastain’s flexed biceps and bare abs to her low-slung ponytail, the image is like no other in the women’s game, the emotion palpable, a historic moment held still for all time. So memorable and iconic, it has even been commemorated in bronze outside of the stadium in Pasadena lest anyone forget. 

Words: Sophie Lawson
First published 16 September 2019