Football review 2012: The story of the year

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A look back at the year in football

With the year drawing to a close, our series looks back at the highs, lows, absurd and brilliant from the world of football in 2012.

The Independent's football writers have been asked to come up with their moments of the year - and here they look back on the biggest stories of the past 12 months...

Harry Redknapp acquitted; Fabio Capello resigns as England manager, February, selected by Sam Wallace

There are not many days when two big stories converge in such dramatic fashion. At the time it looked like the England job was Redknapp's destiny. As it turned out he was never even in the running.

Hillsborough, September, selected by Ian Herbert

The Hillsborough Independent Panel report - a work of extraordinary investigation - blew away 23 years of institutional failings and cover up to reveal at last how football and Government had failed the 96 whose lives were lost at Sheffield Wednesday's ground on April 15 1989.

Hillsborough, September, selected by Martin Hardy

The speech from the Hillsborough Independent Panel as it gave its findings on an incident that took place 23 years earlier was breathtaking. "41 people had evidence they had potential to survive after the period of 3.15pm." Nothing that has been said or written this year came close to the gravity of that sentence. "Police carried out criminal record checks on the deceased in an attempt to 'impugn their reputations." The HIP made such an extraordinary attempt to right so many wrongs in its report. September 12, 2012 was a remarkable day in the history of British football.

Rangers, selected by Steve Tongue

It was underplayed south of the border but the idea of a club like Rangers, 115 major trophies and occupying such a huge place in Scottish life, going bust and dropping into the bottom division, was just unthinkable.

Lionel Messi's 91 goals, selected by Jack Pitt-Brooke

In a year when Cristiano Ronaldo finally beat him to the Spanish title, and scored stacks and stacks of wonderful, thrilling, important goals, Lionel Messi still found a way to mark himself out as a player of unique brilliance and importance.

Barcelona lost their Spanish and European titles last season, leading to Pep Guardiola's departure, but it did not stop Messi's relentless accumulation. The incredible thing is that he does not even look particularly bothered by individual accolades, playing just for the sheer fun of it and the benefit of his team-mates. We are lucky to watch the game while he plays it.

Neglect of grass-roots sport, selected by Glenn Moore

The continuing neglect of grass-roots sport by Government (so much for 'the Olympic legacy') and the failure of the professional game's elite level to come to the rescue, both of the lower leagues and the parks' game. The next TV deal is £1.8bn a year, enough to pay for hundreds of 3G artificial surfaces, but still dwarfed by the £108bn budget for the NHS which has even more to gain from encouraging a fitter population.

Football review 2012...

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