Bill Foulkes and Bert Trautmann
These legendary footballers, who died this year at the ages of 81 and 89 respectively, would have loved the modern-day battle for supremacy between the two Manchester giants.
Foulkes spent 18 years at Manchester United, where he was a rock at the centre of defence, while Trautmann kept goal for Manchester City for 15 years. Both were held in great affection by fans who respected their dedication and loyalty.
Foulkes epitomised the spirit of the Matt Busby era. Having worked as a miner from the age of 14, he continued to work down the pit in his early years at United.
He escaped the Munich air crash almost unscathed because he was sitting at the front of the plane, away from the card-playing younger members of the team at the back.
The rugged centre-half had a reputation as a hard man and was given the sarcastic moniker "Popular Bill" by the younger generation of Busby Babes, who were in awe of him. Foulkes played 622 games for United, a total bettered only by Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Bobby Charlton. Ten years after Munich, Foulkes helped United win the European Cup.
Trautmann never enjoyed as much success but his story was even more remarkable. The German was one of just 90 of the 1,000 men who volunteered for his parachute regiment to be still alive at the end of the Second World War. A prisoner of war, he was billeted in Lancashire, where he quickly fell in love with England.
Declining the offer of repatriation after the war, Trautmann played for St Helens Town before being recruited by Manchester City. The crowds loved his warmth and bravery, which was typified in the 1956 FA Cup final victory over Birmingham City. Trautmann was injured when he dived at the feet of an opponent 17 minutes from time but kept playing until the end. It later transpired that he had broken his neck.
Ken Norton and Tommy Morrison
This year saw the passing of two heavyweight world boxing champions who found success on the silver screen as well as in the ring.
Norton fought three epic battles against Muhammad Ali, winning the first of them, when he broke Ali's jaw and was given a split decision over 12 rounds, but losing the next two. Morrison won the world heavyweight title by beating George Foreman in 1993.
Norton performed alongside a number of beautiful women during his movie career, including Susan George, Pam Grier and Brenda Sykes. Asked in later years about sleeping with one of his co-stars, Norton replied: "I did what I had to do."
Lennox Lewis called Morrison one of the hardest punchers he had ever met. The grand nephew of John Wayne and star of Rocky V was one of boxing's biggest attractions, but his life changed in 1996 when he was diagnosed HIV positive.
Sir Henry Cecil
One of horse racing's outstanding trainers over more than four decades. He was champion trainer 10 times and saddled 25 winners of British Classics. Sartorially elegant, he was hugely popular with punters, the public and gossip columnists. In the early 2000s he appeared to be in serious decline, but returned to train Frankel, one of the greatest horses in history.
Cliff Morgan and David Coleman
Morgan had not one but two outstanding careers, in rugby union and broadcasting. A supremely talented fly-half, he won 29 Wales caps plus four as a Lion. On retirement Morgan joined the BBC, where he was a superb commentator. His description of the Barbarians' classic try against the All Blacks in Cardiff in 1973 is regarded as one of the great pieces of commentary.
Morgan edited Grandstand and eventually became Head of Television Outside Broadcasts. His later years were dogged by ill health, including, cruelly for a man with such a wonderfully mellifluous voice, cancer of the larynx.
Morgan worked with Coleman, who was BBC Television's "voice of sport". Coleman combined authority and knowledge with a great passion for his subject. He covered 11 Olympics and six football World Cups but also fronted, among others, Grandstand, Sportsnight and A Question of Sport. Over such a long career occasional gaffes were unavoidable. Coleman once told viewers: "For those of you watching on black-and-white sets, Everton are wearing the blue shirts."
A roll-call of the brave, unlucky, controversial, tragic and great
Jack Crompton, Manchester United's post-war goalkeeper, who became a trainer under Busby; John Downie, the most expensive player in United's history when he signed for £18,000 from Bradford Park Avenue in 1949; and Brian Greenhoff, a member of United's FA Cup-winning team of 1977.
Peter Broadbent, creative genius in the Wolves team that won three League titles in six years in the 1950s; Phil Woosnam, an inside-forward with West Ham, Aston Villa and Wales who was commissioner of the North American Soccer League from 1969-83.
Derek "The Tank" Kevan, a powerful centre-forward who scored 173 goals in 291 games for West Bromwich Albion and played for England in the 1958 World Cup; Southampton's Ron Davies, once described by Busby as "the best centre-forward in Europe"; Alan Arnell, who scored 35 goals in 75 games for Liverpool before Bill Shankly showed him the door; Geoff Strong, who helped Liverpool win the 1965 FA Cup and the League in 1966.
Fred Martin, Scotland's goalkeeper at the 1954 World Cup; Johnny Hamilton, a goal-scoring winger for Hearts during a golden period for the Edinburgh club in the late 1950s; Hibernian's Lawrie Reilly, who scored 22 goals in 38 appearances for Scotland; Colin McAdam, a fearless striker for Rangers; Sean Fallon, a Celtic defender-cum-centre-forward who became an important member of Jock Stein's backroom staff; Dave White, who had the misfortune to be Rangers manager at the same time as Stein was at Celtic.
Malcolm Barrass, Bolton defender, with three England caps, who played against Blackpool in the famous "Matthews FA Cup final" of 1953.
Ronnie Fenton, coach and assistant manager to Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest for 16 years; Ron Noades, a former owner and chairman of Crystal Palace; Tony Grealish, a tigerish midfielder who played for seven clubs during an 18-year career; Christian Benitez, a former Birmingham City striker who died of heart failure aged 27 just hours after making his debut for the Qatari club El Jaish; Wayne Harrison, the world's most expensive teenager when he joined Liverpool from Oldham at 17 in 1985, who died this Christmas Day aged 46; Djalma Santos and Gilmar, who were in Brazil's World Cup-winning teams in 1958 and 1962.
Mike Denness, the only Scottish-born cricketer to captain England; Reg Simpson, who at 93 was England's oldest surviving Test cricketer; Christopher Martin-Jenkins, a prolific cricket journalist and key member of the BBC's Test Match Special team.
Graham Murray, coach who turned around the fortunes of Leeds in the late 1990s; Emmanuel McDonald Bailey, a sprinter best remembered for one game of rugby league and whose name has been evoked ever since whenever a club signs an athlete with no rugby experience; Terry Clawson, a hard man who played in four different decades and wrote in his autobiography: "As Aristotle once remarked, you need eyes up your arse when you play at Oldham."
Sergei Belov, who scored 20 points in Russia's historic 51-50 victory over the US in the 1972 Olympic final, denying the Americans a seventh consecutive gold medal.
Maria de Villota, a former test driver for Marussia, who died of a suspected heart attack at 33, and Sean Edwards, the 26-year-old son of the former Formula One driver Guy Edwards, who was killed in a crash during a private test session.
Andrew "Bart" Simpson one of Britain's most successful sailors, who died, aged 37, in a training accident at the America's Cup.
Bernard Hunt, who played in eight of nine Ryder Cups between 1953 and 1969 and was captain of the GB and Ire team in 1973 and 1975; Ken Venturi, 1964 US Open winner and an acclaimed broadcaster; Miller Barber, who played a record 1,297 tournaments on the PGA and over-50s tours.
Donna Hartley, "golden girl" of British athletics, winning a bronze at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and later won the National Amateur Body Building Association's Miss Britain Physique trophy; the Italian sprinter Pietro Mennea, whose 200m world record of 19.72sec stood for 17 years.
Gertrude "Gussie" Moran, who played in a Wimbledon doubles final but is best remembered for playing in a short skirt that revealed a pair of frilly lace knickers in 1949. The All England Club criticised her for bringing "vulgarity and sin into tennis".
Zhuang Zedong, a three-times world champion who was the inspiration for "ping-pong diplomacy" as China reached out to the US through sport.
Mick McManus, the man the British public loved to hate as he pushed the rules to the limits in an age when the sport drew huge audiences on ITV.
Bill Hoskyns, Britain's first male fencing world champion won silver at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics.
Chris Hallam, a pioneer of sport for the disabled, who was a Paralympic champion in wheelchair racing and swimming.
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