What a year it's been in the world of sport! Despite all the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19, it’s been a blockbuster 12 months full of intrigue and drama. Below, The Sportsman’s writers pick out their favourite piece they have written that appeared on our site in 2021.
To mark 27 years since Gary Lineker hung up his boots, I looked back at a fond childhood memory of mine. In the build-up to a must-win game against Poland at the 1986 World Cup, my dad wasn’t convinced by the forward’s inclusion in the England squad, having drawn blanks in the opening two fixtures. When it mattered though, Lineker came alive and scored three goals in a 25-minute spell to ensure a safe passage into the second round as runners-up in Group F.
The rest, as they say, is history. When all was said and done, Lineker played his last game for England just one goal shy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s then-record goal tally of 49. What a striker.
We’ve covered the life and times of Muhammad Ali extensively on the pages of The Sportsman over the years (see below), but in 2021 we had the opportunity to speak to a man who knew ‘The Greatest’ better than most. There’s been a lot of buzz in the world of boxing over the course of the last year over Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of the legendary heavyweight.
Having made his debut in August, Walsh fought three times in 2021, winning all three. “The Legacy Lives On” spoke to us after his pro debut win and gave us a fascinating insight into what it’s like to follow in the footsteps of greatness.
I chose this piece as it posed a unique challenge. Strip away the myth surrounding 'The Rumble In The Jungle', look beyond the cultural importance and actually technically break-down the most famous fight ever. I tried to cover the fight as if it happened yesterday, shorn of its 'When We Were Kings' connotations. I hope I managed to make the delectable skills of Muhammad Ali live and breathe again, just for a little while.
We’ve had the pleasure of speaking to a number of incredible people over the last 12 months, but few athletes to feature in The Sportsman have had a 2021 quite like superstar swimmer Adam Peaty.
We caught up with arguably Britain’s finest modern Olympian in the build-up to Tokyo 2020, where he became the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title. The 26-year-old was candid about his battles with depression and how reading Tyson Fury’s book ‘Behind the Mask’ allowed him to see comparisons between himself and the heavyweight champion.
I’ve had the pleasure of writing a number of fun pieces for The Sportsman in my time with the company, but one of the most fun pieces I’ve written in recent memory was just last week. As a huge boxing fan, the Rocky series holds a special place in my heart, so to wax lyrically about why Rocky IV is Christmas’ most underrated film was an absolute joy.