Two worlds collide
February 22, 1980
The Soviet Union had won gold in six of the last seven Winter Olympics and, a team awash with professional players, were expected to make light work of a completely amateur United States line-up that they faced on the other side of the ice.
But somehow the Americans edged out their Russian opposition 4-3, leading to commentator Al Michaels, of ABC, to say in the game’s dying moments: “Eleven seconds, you’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown is going on right now. Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes,” and with it, the game’s name was born.
Remarkably, the match was only the opening salvo of the round-robin format rather than any great battle for gold. But the American team kept up their good run and duly beat Finland come the final stage for a first Olympic title in the sport for 20 years.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) October 26, 2017
A win never in doubt?
Despite the disparity in terms of quality on the ice – on paper, at least – American coach Herb Brooks was adamant his players would win.
In his final speech before the match, he told his players: “You were born to be a player, you were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”
Amazingly, the US did not lead until going into the final 10 minutes when the seventh goal of the game found its way into the back of the net.
“You were born to be a player, you were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”
USA coach Herb Brooks
One anchor compared the shock result to a group of Canadian football players defeating the then Super Bowl champions the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Afterwards, Brooks immediately returned to the locker room and burst into tears. His players remained deep in celebration on the ice, an image that would become a famous Sports Illustrated cover without any captions or headlines.