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...

Tweets of the year

Chants of the year

Quotes of the year

Haircuts of the year

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
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A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
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A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
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London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
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Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
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Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
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Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
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Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape