Remembering The Iconic Sports Stars We Lost In 2021

It has been a year in which we said goodbye to some sporting greats
11:00, 30 Dec 2021

As we bid farewell to 2021, there is an air of hope as we look ahead to what 2022 might bring in the sporting world. And while there will be some eager new beginnings, we first must reflect on chapters ending. There have been many great sporting losses over the last 12 months, each wrapped with their own vibrant history and accomplishments in the world of sport and their legacies are sure to live on forever.

It is time to reflect on some of the sporting legends that sadly passed away this year.

Ian St John

St John was a former footballer, coach and broadcaster who won two league titles with Liverpool in the 1960’s along with an FA Cup and three FA Community Shields. He played as a forward and he was a talented footballer who went on to represent Scotland on 21 occasions, scoring nine goals. St John had an enjoyable football career before briefly getting into management in the 1970’s with his hometown club Motherwell and Portsmouth. He later co-presented the topical football show Saint and Greavsie with Jimmy Greaves from 1985-1992, which was a widely popular programme. St John was later inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Greaves

The former Tottenham Hotspur and England striker sadly also left us this year. He was Spurs’ highest ever goalscorer with 266, England’s fifth-highest goalscorer with 44, as well as scoring the most hat-tricks (six) for the Three Lions. Greaves was an impeccable striker and one of the greatest the beautiful game has ever seen. He still also holds the record for most top-flight goals in English football with 357. He is also a member of the English Football Hall of Fame. Across his career he won a Serie A title, two FA Cups, two FA Community shields, a European Cup Winners’ Cup and he was part of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team.

Barbara Inkpen

Inkpen was a track and field star who represented Great Britain, mainly in the high jump. She became a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in New Zealand in 1974 whilst also becoming a silver medallist in the 1971 European Championships in Helsinki. She also represented Great Britain at two summer Olympics in 1968 and 1972 respectively.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler

This boxing legend turned actor had an incredible career in the ring in which he reigned as the undisputed champion of the middleweight division from 1980-87. In that time, he made 12 successful defences, with only one not ending in a knockout. He holds the highest knockout percentage of all undisputed middleweight champions at 78%. His reign of six years and seven months was the second-longest active reign of the last century, behind Bernard Hopkins. Hagler is an inductee of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Colin Bell

Bell was a footballer, fondly remembered as a Manchester City legend during a 13-year spell at the club between 1966-79. Although he played as a midfielder, he is the club’s fourth-highest scorer in history with 152 goals in all competitions, and one commentator described him as “the most finished article in the modern game.” He was inducted into both the England and Manchester City Halls of Fame and now has a stand name after him at the Etihad. With City, he won two EFL Cups, two FA Community Shields, one FA Cup, one First Division title and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Jeanette Altwegg

Altwegg was a British figure skater who competed in ladies’ singles and became the 1952 Olympic champion, having claimed bronze at the 1948 Games. Her Olympic title was also significant because it was Great Britain’s first and last Olympic gold in the event which is what makes her achievements so special. In her time as a skater, she also became World and European champion before quickly leaving the sport behind for a role in Switzerland working with refugee children. 

Bertie Auld

Auld was a Celtic and Scottish legend, part of the Hoops’ legendary Lisbon Lions who won the 1967 European Cup. Most of his career was spent in Scotland but he also spent four years at Birmingham City where he won an EFL Cup. With Celtic he also played an integral role in helping secure five league titles, four Scottish League Cups and three Scottish Cups. A true Scottish great of the beautiful game and part of one of the most famous European title-winning sides in living memory.

Walter Smith

Another Glasgow legend, but from the blue side of Rangers. Smith was a former footballer who was more widely known once he got into management, which included two stints at Ibrox. Over the course of his two reigns, he claimed 21 domestic titles, becoming one of the club’s most successful managers in their history. There was such a strong connection between Smith and the supporters who were dealt a crushing blow with the news of his passing. For all his brilliance in football, he was regarded as an even better person.

Eileen Ash

Ash was an English cricketer who was primarily a right-arm medium bowler. She featured in seven Test matched for England between 1937 and 1949. She was the longest-lived international cricketer at the age of 110. Her best career performance came against Victoria Country XI in a tour match in 1949 with an all-round display where she scored an unbeaten century, and taking five wickets in the match. This propelled England to a comfortable 170 run win.

Gerd Muller

A German footballer who was incredibly gifted, Muller also became an icon of the sport. He was a deadly striker and one of the best to have played the game in his position for his clinical edge in front of goal. He was a World Cup and European Championship winner with West Germany, scoring 68 goals in 62 international appearances. At club level, he scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga matches in 15 years with Bayern Munich, in which he is still the record holder. He was decorated with four Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal titles, three European Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup during his time with the German giants. Muller was also the recipient of the 1970 Ballon d’Or award, a year in which he won the European Golden Shoe, and the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot. He was truly one of the greatest strikers the world has ever seen.

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