Sport's winners and losers of 2011
The nature of competitive sport always means highs and lows and 2011 has delivered.
We've pulled together the extremes of both from across the year, looking at the teams and individuals who had a year to remember and those with one to forget...
WINNER: Sepp Blatter
Following the World Cup bid debacle, the corruption and the interesting views on racism, it's fair to say Fifa president Sepp Blatter hasn't won many fans this year. But he has been winning. Having had his rival for the Fifa presidency suspended, Blatter won re-election unopposed to ensure he can lord over football for another four years.
LOSER: Ryan Giggs
The Fergie Fledgling that became a swan who then got hit by a car. Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and the PFA Player of the Year awards in 2009. In 2010 commentators and pundits fell over themselves to praise every pass and jink performed by the Welshman. But 2011 was very different. Giggs obtained a super injection to keep details of an extra-marital affair under wraps. But in the age of Twitter it became farcical, and eventually his identity was revealed in the House of Commons in one of the biggest tabloid stories of the year.
LOSER: Martin Johnson and the England rugby team
Having led England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup title as captain, Martin Johnson is held up as a true legend of the game. But returning for this year's tournament as the manager of the side did little for his reputation. Scandals involving dwarves, inappropriate comments to hotel staff, bungee jumping, mouth guards, ferry diving and ball swapping were compounded by some dreadful displays on the pitch before England were beaten by France and dumped out of the competition. Soon after he walked away from the job.
WINNER: England cricket team
2011 started in brilliant fashion for the England cricket team when they won the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years. A fine year of Test cricket was recognised when England were crowned the world's number one Test side for the first time following the summer whitewash of India. Great individual performances, particularly from Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook were supplemented by a wonderful team ethic led by Andrew Strauss.
LOSER: David Haye
In one of the most hyped fights in memory (even by boxing's standards), British heavyweight David Haye took on Wladimir Klitschko in a unification bout. Before the fight Haye produced a t-shirt depicting him ripping the heads of the Klitschko brothers, took to Twitter to slight his opponent, refused to shake Wladimir's hand, created an app in which he knocked the head off the giant eastern European and at any opportunity made fun of his rival. In terms of 'trashing' his opponent, David Haye won by a knockout. In the ring it was anything but, where instead he was completely outclassed by Klitschko and lost in a landslide points decision after a hugely disappointing contest.
WINNER: Joey Barton's Twitter account
Soon after opening his account on Twitter, it was clear Joey Barton wasn't going to hold back, quickly beginning a spat with his then club Newcastle after their refusal to offer him a new deal. Targets since have included the cast of The Only Way is Essex, Alan Shearer, Jack Wilshere, Piers Morgan...
LOSER: Women's sport
Designed to celebrate the past 12 months in sport, this year's Sports Personality of the Year award instead highlighted the lack of notable female sports stars. Whether that's because women take second place to men in the media, or it was due a collective failure to shine is debatable - either way, it was a low moment for women's sport.
WINNER: Huddersfield Town
Under the stewardship of Lee Clark, League One Huddersfield went 43 league matches unbeaten, a run that saw them break Nottingham Forest's record which dated back 33 years.
LOSER: Michael Jackson
Bad. That was the general view of the Michael Jackson statue unveiled at Craven Cottage by Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed.
WINNER: Giovanni Trappattoni
The Italian was incredibly unfortunate not to take Ireland to the 2010 World Cup, being undone by the hand of Thierry Henry. But in qualification for Euro 2012, the vampire look-a-like made no mistake, seeing his side beat Estonia in a play-off as Ireland reached the Euros for the first time since 1988 and make it to the tournament for just the second time in their history.
LOSER: Fernando Torres
In January Fernando Torres became the most expensive player in British transfer record history. Chelsea paid Liverpool £50m for the Spain striker's services. His time at Stamford Bridge started poorly, but surely in time he would be back to his world beating best? No such luck for El Nino, who after nearly a year in blue, has just three Premier League goals to his name.
WINNER: UK golfers
First Rory McIlroy won the US Open with a statement of intent not seen since Tiger Woods first won the tournament. Then it was Darren Clarke's turn as he lifted the Open title. And to round off the year, Luke Donald finished as the No 1 player in the world and became the first player to top the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in a remarkable display of consistency.
LOSER: Carlos Tevez
His arrival at City was accompanied by an antagonising billboard erected in Manchester. It was followed by some incredible displays, many goals and an FA Cup winners medal. But with the Argentinean striker eager to leave the Etihad, in a Champions League tie against Bayern Munich, substitute Tevez refused to warm up when requested to do so by his manager. His club were infuriated, he was fined £400,000 and he hasn't played for them since. Tevez is no longer welcome in Manchester.
WINNER: Novak Djokovic
The Serbian was once like Andy Murray, playing his game in the huge shadow cast by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. But 2011 saw him break into the light in incredible style as he won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles. He won 70 of the 76 matches he played, with the handful of defeats coming at the end of the season as injury's took their toll. He finished the year as the undisputed No 1 player in the world.
LOSER: The integrity of cricket
Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were found guilty of their part in a "spot-fixing" scam after a trial at Southwark Crown Court. Mohammad Amir, one of the brightest prospects in cricket, admitted the charges prior to the trial.
WINNER: Sebastian Vettel
It's often said that the only thing harder than winning a title is retaining it. Not for Sebastian Vettel who blew the opposition away with the exhaust fumes of his Red Bull. The German driver became a two time F1 World Champion in 2011 after completing the season with 15 poles, 11 victories and 17 podiums from 19 races.
LOSER: Gary Johnson
As a football manager, being sacked is par for the course. Being sacked twice is akin to hitting the ball off the course and on to a busy motorway. Gary Johnson was fired from Peterborough in January and Northampton in November. He remains in the club house having failed to find a new employer.
WINNER: All Blacks
It was widely expected that the All Blacks would win the 2011 Rugby World Cup. But then they're expected to win the World Cup every time and hadn't done so for 24 years. That the tournament was being staged in New Zealand only added to the pressure on the team. And despite injuries to their favoured fly-halves, including Dan Carter, the All Blacks would triumph to give the troubled island a hard-fought lift.
LOSER: Chris Hoy
Call yourself a referee Chris Hoy? Well actually, he never did, but that didn't stop angry Tottenham fans from venting their frustration at the Olympic gold medallist who was mistaken for referee Chris Foy on Twitter. "Just for the record 1) I don't need glasses and 2) I do not lead a double life as an English premiere league ref. That's Chris Foy," Chris Hoy tweeted.
WINNER: Samuel Eto'o
The multi-time winner of the African Footballer of the Year award signed for Anzhi Makhachkala in August. How does leaving Italian giants Inter Milan and signing for an unknown Russian outfit make him a winner you ask? The 20m Euros a year after tax does, making him the best paid player in the world.
LOSER: Rio Ferdinand
You're captain of your country and one of the most respected defenders in the Premier League. Now you're not. Injuries caught up with Rio Ferdinand this year, and his lack of games were enough for Fabio Capello to unceremoniously strip him of the three lions armband and hand it back to disgraced John Terry. The England manager failed to speak to Ferdinand before the news was leaked, making for a humiliating episode for the former Leeds defender. And on top of that, the arrival of Phil Jones at United during the summer has put Ferdinand's place as a sure starter for United in doubt. Merked.
Another Champions League title, the La Liga title, the Club World Cup, Lionel Messi voted the Fifa Player of the Year - Barcelona were the greatest team of 2011. Perhaps the greatest of all time...
LOSER: Australian cricket
They lost the Ashes at the start of the year and then proceeded to lose all of the aura that once mesmerised opponents into submission. Ricky Ponting stepped down as captain but continued to play on, but in a run of 19 innings he reached 50 just three times. Australia's problems were only highlighted when in December New Zealand recorded their first Test victory over the Baggy Greens for 26 years.
WINNER: Mario Balotelli
2011 saw Mario Balotelli morph from a flippant, spoilt, unpredictable brat to a flippant, spoilt, unpredictable brat who started scoring. And the majority of us loved him for it. Never out of the headlines, whether it be fireworks displays in his bathroom, playing on his iPad, throwing darts at youth-team players or handing out wads of cash, the Manchester City striker has become the most entertaining player in English football for both his off-field antics and now his on-field displays.
LOSER: Hair dye
Ireland stunned England at this year's cricket World Cup, but unfortunately whenever those Ireland players look back at that day, they will be met with a pink haired version of themselves. Supporting 'Shave or Dye 2011', a campaign to raise awareness for the Irish Cancer Society, all the players sported bright pink hair.
WINNER: Football agents
Between October 1 2010 and September 30 2011, football agents were paid a staggering £71.7m by Premier League teams. Despite the recession biting ever harder, the figures were an increase on the previous year's, meaning football agents kept on winning.
LOSER: Andy Gray and Richard Keys
Andy Gray and Richard Keys were Sky Sports. They were also caught on video being sexist, particularly on their views of female match official Sian Massey. The football presenters were damaged by the original leak but as further evidence of their neanderthal views emerged, they could no longer cling on to their jobs.
When the manager of the Altitude bar in Queenstown decided to stage a 'Mad Midget Weekender' little did he know that it would provide the backdrop for one of the biggest stories of the year. Thanks to the attendance of a few drunk England rugby players, the night hit headlines around the world, provided some excellent free publicity and had the world asking - what are the rules of dwarf throwing?
LOSER: Copa del Rey
Competing against the might of Barcelona, Real Madrid were only able to win the Spanish equivalent of the FA Cup last season, the Copa del Rey. In comparison to the other trophies on offer, the Copa is somewhat unloved. And full-back Sergioire Ramos made that perfectly clear when he clumsily dropped it from the roof of an open top bus, the trophy then going under the wheels of the victory parade vehicle.
WINNER: Mark Cavendish
The ‘Manx Missile’ won the road cycling world title and the green jersey in the Tour de France to secure an unforgettable double. He was then voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year just to confirm what an amazing achievement it all was.
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