I’m not sure how I’m supposed to lead you into reading this New York Times post on the history of the World Cup ball other than commanding you to do so.
The post is quite simply a brilliant telling of the history, from the first ever World Cup final’s use of a ball for each half all the way up to the Brazuca.
Plus I love this quote on the early history of heading:
The heavy leather laces of early balls made headers potentially painful, and relatively rare. A later innovation in valve design eliminated the laces. The new balls were much easier to head, and they held their shape better.