As Lionel Messi broke down in his Barcelona press conference, the tears that came with the announcement of his departure flowed. He is Barcelona, having been at the club since the age of 13, and his departure has broken the heart of the entire city. Fans gathered outside the Nou Camp gates as their greatest ever player said his goodbyes, but tears are not an unusual thing in sport.
From joy to heartbreak to utter sadness, sportspeople have often welled up on screen, showing a more human side to our sporting superheroes.
Gazza’s tears are perhaps the most famous of the lot. In England's World Cup semi-final with Germany at Italia ‘90, Gascoigne was everywhere. He was the beating heart of Sir Bobby Robson’s Three Lions and as the unlikely heroes made their way to the final four for the first time since 1966.
Now Gazza was already on a yellow card heading into this game, and another in this semi-final meant he would miss the final if England made it. Fighting in midfield with every fibre of his being, he overran the ball and crashed into Thomas Berthold who let out an almighty scream. Although the England man tried to cover his mouth, the referee produced a yellow and Gazza couldn’t hide his emotions.
Now a blubbering mess on the pitch as he realised his dreams had been ended, Gary Lineker famously pointed to the bench telling his coaching team to keep an eye on their star man. It was a summer that changed England’s attitude towards football, and Gazza’s performances and his tears, made him a national treasure.
Back in the summer of 2012, Andy Murray was still on the hunt for his first Grand Slam title. He had already lost three finals and six semi-finals when he found himself up against Roger Federer in the showpiece event at Wimbledon, so he was desperate to finally get over the line.
It didn’t quite happen. Despite winning the first set, he couldn’t stop the great Federer from winning yet another Wimbledon title, and in his post-match interview, the tears came.
“Alright, I’m going to try this but it is not going to be easy,” he attempted to get his words out before breaking down. 2012 would be a huge year for Murray, as he won Olympic gold against the same opponent at the same ground, won the US Open to end his Grand Slam doubt, and won Sports Personality of the Year. What a man.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, sometimes tears in sport are not received so lovingly by the spectators watching on. Australia captain’s Steve Smith’s tears came not in the middle of a sporting coliseum, but in the ignominy of Sydney airport.
Facing the world’s press after his role in ‘sandpapergate’, in which Australia’s cricketers had been caught tampering with the ball during their Test series with South Africa, one of the world’s best batsmen broke down. It seemed he was finally coming to terms with what he had done, and how serious the repercussions would be.
A 12 month ban would follow, he was stripped of the captaincy, and the image of his crying at Sydney airport will unfortunately be one of the defining ones of the entire sport.
Former British medal holder Derek Redmond was a serious medal contender in the 400m heading into the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, having helped his nation to a relay gold in the 4x400m in the World Championships a year prior.
However, his race would end in despair. On the back straight, he suffered a hamstring injury that stopped him in his tracks. Determined to finish, he got back to his feet and began to hobble around the track, to the cheers of the crowd. His dad, wrestled past stewards to stand shoulder to shoulder with his son, and helped him around the track to the finish line.
In one of the defining moments from any Olympic Games in history, Redmond sobbed in his father’s arms as they finished the race together. His tears, and his close bond with his father pulled on the heartstrings of all watching at home.