The story of the 1970 World Cup
Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will be looking back at previous tournaments with the help of some of the key characters and the BBC's archive footage.
Mexico, May & June, 1970
Perhaps the most indelible image from any World Cup is that of the peerless Pele playing a perfectly weighted pass at the end of the 1970 final for a marauding Brazil captain Carlos Alberto to thump home.
It was certainly the defining moment of that competition; the sublime individual skill that went into making a team goal that proved to be the perfect way for the world to remember arguably the most brilliant collection of footballers ever assembled.
And it was a fitting denouement to probably the finest World Cup tournament of all.
With armchair supporters able to watch their new heroes on colour television for the first time, the 16 competing nations produced a feast for the eyes never before and perhaps never since matched.
For holders England, the Mexican fiesta of football began in catastrophic fashion when captain Bobby Moore was arrested before the World Cup had even begun for allegedly stealing a bracelet from a jeweller's shop in Colombia. He was released on bail so he could play, with the charges quietly dropped later.
Not exactly the ideal preparation, but it was England's Group Three meeting with Brazil that set the World Cup alight, and ended with many experts predicting the two teams were destined to meet again in the final at the Azteca Stadium.
The game contained three moments that will forever be ingrained in England's footballing psyche: Bobby Moore executing a wonderful tackle to deny a rampaging Jairzinho, poor Jeff Astle dragging a left-foot shot horribly wide from 10 yards and Gordon Banks producing a seemingly impossible save to keep out Pele's bullet header.
"It's funny," said Banks in a recent interview, "but when I leave this planet, that save in 1970 is what I'll be known for rather than winning the cup in 1966. Pele was already shouting 'goal' because it looked for all the world to be going in. It's amazing how people still talk about it."
Banks, Moore and the irrepressible Pele - who almost scored from inside his own half against Czechoslovakia - were proving their world-class quality once more, but a new breed of stars was also emerging.
Goal-hungry West Germany striker Gerd Muller scored hat-tricks in successive group games against Bulgaria and Peru, Jairzinho was busy scoring in every Brazil game, and the Peruvians and their midfield maestro Teofilo Cubillas were catching the eye with some entertaining football that saw 18 goals in their four matches.
Cubillas - who struck five times in the tournament - has plenty of reasons to remain proud of his country's finest World Cup performance, coming as it did so soon after the worst natural disaster in the history of Peru - an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale.
"We were well prepared for that cup," Cubillas told me. "In our first game, two days after the earthquake, we came from 3-2 down to beat Bulgaria and I scored the winner, a goal that brought joy back to our country after the catastrophe.
"I played in the 1978 and 1982 World Cups too, but I have to say I enjoyed 1970 the most because we functioned as a team - one for all and all for one. We had a good coach and we knew each other well on the field, I think that was why we were so successful."
It is humbling to discover just how much the World Cup still means to someone like Cubillas, who now runs a football academy in Florida with his two sons. "It was my dream to play in a World Cup and I achieved it at 20 years of age," he says. "It's a tremendous honour as in this lifetime you reap what you sow, and I feel privileged to have chosen soccer as my profession.
"The World Cup is the maximum expression in this sport of ours. A player that doesn't make it to the World Cup will always have that one piece missing, whereas if he does make it his mission is complete."
When the quarter-finals got under way, it signalled the start of a procession of games that would go down in the echelons of World Cup history. All four last-eight contests took place on Sunday 14 June, spread out across Mexico, and they did not disappoint.
Uruguay beat Soviet Union with a 116th-minute winner, Brazil won a six-goal thriller against Cubillas's like-minded Peruvians and Italy shrugged off a sluggish start to the tournament by hammering the hosts 4-1 in Toluca.
More than 200 miles away in Leon, England v West Germany turned into a classic to rival what had occurred four years previously. Missing Banks, who was laid low by a stomach upset, Sir Alf Ramsey's men went 2-0 up just after the break thanks to goals from Alan Mullery and Martin Peters, before disaster struck.
First Banks's replacement Peter Bonetti allowed a Franz Beckenbauer shot to slip under his body, then Uwe Seeler levelled. When it went to extra-time, the prolific Muller turned and fired in a winner.
The holders were out, but the breathless football showed no signs of slowing down. While Clodoaldo, Jairzinho and Rivelinho were helping Brazil dispatch Uruguay 3-1 in Guadalajara, one of the World Cup's classic contests was developing in Mexico City as West Germany and Italy fought for the right to meet the Brazilians in the final.
It is a game known as Partita del Secolo in Italian and Jahrhundertspiel in German - the 'Game of the Century' - yet for so long it seemed as though Roberto Boninsegna's eight-minute strike would earn a 1-0 win for the Italians. However, when Karl-Heinz Schnellinger - who played for AC Milan in Italy - equalised at the death, the most astonishing period of extra-time followed.
Muller put Germany ahead, only for Tarcisio Burgnich to level. Luigi Riva edged Italy in front, only for Muller to equalise. With the cameras still showing replays of the goal that made it 3-3, Boninsegna pulled the ball back and Gianni Rivera crashed in a winner.
A game that was 1-0 in the 89th minute finished 4-3. It remains the only World Cup contest in history that has seen five goals scored in extra-time.
By the time the Italians lined up to face Brazil in the final four days later, they were exhausted. Boninsegna cancelled out Pele's early opener just before the break, but in the second half Brazil turned on the style to tear Ferruccio Valcareggi's side apart.
Gerson's 20-yard rocket put them ahead again, Jairzinho bundled in and then with four minutes left, and the Italians a spent force, Carlos Alberto ended a move that comprised nine players to put the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake. It also ensured that, as he held the Jules Rimet aloft a few minutes later, the trophy would forever belong to the Brazilians, as they became the first country to win the World Cup three times.
Pele, who had wowed the world with his sparkling skills throughout the tournament, set an individual record that may never be broken with his third World Cup triumph, 12 years after arriving on the world stage as a precocious 17-year-old in Sweden.
The last word must go to Burgnich, tasked with marking 'The King' on his final appearance on the global stage: "I told myself before the game that he's made of skin and bone like everyone else. But I was wrong."
If you can remember 1970, do let me know your thoughts. If, like me, you can't, tell me what that tournament and that brilliant Brazil side mean to you.
On Monday, the series continues with a look at the 1974 finals as the World Cup went Oranje crazy, with memories from two of the central protagonists in West Germany.