Tag Archives: Fred

50 Greatest British sports stars of all-time: Top 10

So here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for; the top ten British sports stars of all-time! To view the rest of the countdown simply click on the links below the picture. 10

50-41 / 40-31 / 30-21 / 20-11

10: Joe Calzaghe

A two-weight boxing champion with a perfect professional record, Welshman Calzaghe defeated virtually all of the notable names in his weight divisions over the course of a 15-year career.

His final pair of victories against Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. were arguably the most notable scalps on Calzaghe’s CV, albeit both were admittedly past their best. A 2007 BBC Sports Personality of the year award and 2014 induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame were testament to his in-ring excellence and enduring popularity.

9: Sir Ian Botham

One of the greatest  all-rounders the cricket world has ever seen, Botham was England’s talismanic, fearless match winner who overcame an unsuccessful spell as captain to destroy the Australians in 1981 during what came to be known as ‘Botham’s Ashes’.

A series of back issues latterly removed the zip from Beefy’s bowling, but for the first half of his career he was the most exciting cricketer on the planet. Aged 37 Botham found one final burst of form and fitness during the 1992 World Cup, with England making it to the final . A long overdue Knighthood arrived in 2007.

8: Linford Christie

After years of being the bridesmaid, Jamaican born Christie was officially crowned the fastest man on the planet when he blew away the competition to win the 100m Olympic title in Barcelona in 1992.

The following year he added World Championship gold to that, running a time of 9.87 seconds to set a British record that still stands today. That these feats were achieved when well into his 30’s makes them all the more remarkable.

7: Sir Nick Faldo

Faldo’s painstakingly measured approach to each hole made him one of the less exciting golfers during an era of big personalities, but his process brought six major titles, including a hat-trick of Masters green jackets.

His ill-fated captaincy of Britain’s Ryder Cup team in 2008 bore out what many had already suspected, Faldo’s huge ego making him a poor selection for the role. The single-mindedness and unrelenting self-belief that hindered him there were pivotal cogs during his run on top in the 1980’s and 90’s.

6: Sir Denis Compton

Kevin Pietersen has nothing on Compton, the most exciting and innovative batsman England has ever produced.

An average of more than 50 could have been even higher had Compton not been quite as flamboyant, his best Test score of 278 was achieved whilst seemingly attempting to devise as many new shots as possible. Not only was he an outstanding cricketer, he also represented Arsenal FC as a left winger, and even got a dozen caps for the English football team during wartime.

5: Fred Perry

Fred Perry is more than just a clothing line, despite what those adorned in the over-priced garments bearing his name may think; 70 years after his heyday Perry remains the most successful tennis player that Britain has ever produced (sorry Andy.)

Fred Perry statue

A bona fide celebrity, Perry secured eight Grand Slam singles titles in the space of four seasons from 1933-36. He also won every doubles and mixed doubles Grand Slam title available, as well as two US Pro championships. His Davis Cup pairing with Bunny Austin ensured that Great Britain retained the title for four consecutive years.

4: Sir Bradley Wiggins

Born in Belgium, Wiggins moved to England as a child and by the age of 12 had discovered an aptitude for road cycling, progressing through the amateur ranks before turning professional nine years later.

In 2012 he enjoyed his annus mirabilis, winning time trial gold at the Olympics and becoming the first Brit to gain the Tour de France title, both of which resulted in dozens of awards. Wiggins’ attempt to break the hour record this month was unsuccessful, proving that he is human after all.

3: Lennox Lewis

It wasn’t until the final few years of Lewis’ boxing career that he indisputably earned his position among the greats, this despite a constant stream of success for more than a decade – a flash knock-out suffered at the hands of the under rated Oliver McCall giving sceptics fuel for the fire.

Representing Canada on his way to Olympic gold in 1988, Lewis had switched allegiances to Britain when he turned pro (he was born in London.) He went on to beat every opponent he faced in the ring, avenging the only three blemishes on his record by convincingly winning the resultant rematches. ‘The Lion’ remains the most recent undisputed world heavyweight champion, as well as being recognised as the possessor of one of the most effective jabs the sport has ever seen.

2: Sir Steven Redgrave

“If anyone sees me in a boat again I give them permission to shoot me!” So stated Steve Redgrave after winning coxless pair gold for a fourth successive Olympics in Atlanta in 1996.

Yet return he did, and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics a 38-year old Redgrave made it five in a row. His place in Olympic and British sporting folklore assured, the veteran rower did this time stroll into the sunset, focusing his energy on becoming an ambassador for British athletics instead.

1: Sir Bobby Moore

The greatest captain England have ever had, and arguably the finest central defender that the world of football has ever seen. Moore usually reserved his best performances for his country, although he proudly represented his boyhood club, West Ham United, for more than 16 years.

Moore and Pele

His life after football was less successful, with a mediocre stint in management followed by poor business decisions, and a disgraceful shunning by the Football Association. Moore died of liver and bowel Cancer at the age of just 51 in 1993. In death his legacy shines brightly; his incredible tackle that stopped Brazil’s Jairzinho at the 1970 World Cup immortalized by the song ‘Three Lions’ during Euro ’96.

Do you agree with Kureen’s top 50? Let us know in the comment section below, and please remember to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

50 Greatest British sports stars of all-time: 30-21

In the third part of the series, Kureen counts down the best of British sport from 30th to 21st place. To view the first two editions simply click on the links below;

Part one: 50-41
Part two: 40-31

30: Sebastian Coe

Seb Coe

His post-athletics foray into politics has make it easy for detractors to overlook a sensational spell during the late 1970’s to mid-1980’s when Seb Coe not only broke three world records in the space of 41 days, but also became the undisputed king of 1500m running.

This was much to the chagrin of British team-mate and arch nemesis Steve Ovett, who pre-1980 had been undefeated at the distance for three years, only for Coe to win consecutive Olympic titles in 1980 and ’84 to go alongside a brace of 800m silvers.

29: Mo Farah

 At 5 foot 6, and carrying a little over 55kg on a slim frame, Mo Farah isn’t your archetypal sporting hero. Born in Somalia in 1983, he joined his father in Britain at the age of eight, barely able to utter a word of English.

He soon found his purpose, becoming a top junior middle and long distance runner, culminating with a clutch of national records and, more notably, double gold at 10,000m and 5000m in both the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 Worlds – Farah rewarded with a CBE and lucrative endorsement deal with vegetarian food behemoth Quorn.

28: Steven Hendry

‘The golden boy’ was the fresh, acne afflicted face of snooker throughout the 1990’s, winning seven world and five UK titles over the course of the decade, remaining world number one for an unprecedented eight consecutive seasons between 1990 and 1998.

An attacking, fiercely competitive player, Edinburgh born Hendry revolutionised the game with offensive shot selections that put fear into opponents, most notably Jimmy White who was traumatised irreparably by a series of major final defeats at the hands of the Scot. 

27: Lester Piggott

Nine Epsom Derby wins and 11 British flat racing championships in a high-calibre era of horse racing made Piggott the Queen’s favourite jockey.

That cosy propinquity rapidly fell into decline in 1987 however, with Piggott jailed for more than a year as a result of tax fraud, her maj’ swiftly withdrew his OBE, and although a return to the saddle provided a few career twilight highlights, his reputation amongst racing fans was in tatters. 

26: Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan burst onto the snooker scene in 1993, beating the great Steven Hendry 10-6 in the final of the UK Championships at the tender age of 17; the crowd wooed by his attacking style and dismissive attitude towards the game’s hierarchy, an ardent support that endures to this day.

That early hype seemed to weigh heavily on the shoulders of ‘The Rocket’, with severe depression and patchy form undermining his remarkable talent. A new training regime, lightened schedule and adjusted mindset allowed O’Sullivan to find consistency, his five world titles placing him third on the all-time list.

25: Martin Johnson

A World Cup winning captain, British Lions staple, and world class player, 6 foot 7 inch, 260 pound lock Martin Johnson was the proud, fearless chief who stood at the front of England’s 2003 main stage success.

If that World Cup glory was inevitably the pinnacle of a glittering career, it was for the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa that Johnson arguably reserved his finest form, the Spring Boks unable to snuff out his threat at the line-out on the way to a 2-1 series victory for the British team.

24: Fred Trueman

A stoic Yorkshireman, ‘fiery’ Fred Trueman is etched in the annuls as England’s all-time premier fast bowler, with his 307 Test match wickets (at the time a world record) coming at just 21.57 a piece, a miserly average befitting a man never ashamed of his thrifty habits on or off the field.

That superlative international record would have undoubtedly been even more impressive had Trueman not been in conflict with the MCC so often, leading to him being omitted from a number of England’s matches. Surprisingly, considering the velocity of his bowling, Fred stood at only 5 foot 10 inches tall in his spikes.

23: Jonathan Edwards

Edwards’ talent was obvious from a young age, but the embryonic stages of his athletics career were affected by devout Christian beliefs which prohibited the triple-jumper from competing or practising on Sundays. Relenting, he eventually decided to work around his religious convictions, his career almost immediately prospering as a result.

Early in the 1995 season he broke the world record by a centimetre, and later that year added another 31cm to the mark as he took World Championship gold with a humongous leap of 18.29m. Olympic glory took longer, eventually arriving in Sydney in 2000, with Edwards bowing out of the sport a year later, having secured a second world title. As an interesting aside; in 2007 Edwards announced that he was no longer a Christian.

22: Andy Murray

2012 was a career defining year for Andy Murray. The Scottish tennis player became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon singles final since Bunny Austin in 1938, losing to Roger Federer. The tears he shed in his post-match interview saw him accepted by reticent sections of fans still lamenting the retirement of the milder mannered Tim Henman.

Andy Murray

Later that summer Murray won the Olympic singles title. He started 2013 by gaining his first Grand Slam at the US Open, and, having qualified for a second successive Wimbledon final, secured the trophy in front of a fervent, partisan crowd, defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets. All that remains on the career bucket list is to win the French and Australian slams, and become world number one before the inevitable knighthood… Watch this space.

21: George Best

The most talented footballer that Britain has ever produced was also one of the most troubled. Discovered at 15 playing in Belfast, Manchester United manager Matt Busby received a telegram from one of his scouts which read “I think I’ve found you a genius.”

That genius was never more obvious than during the 1967-68 season, when a 22 year-old Best struck 32 goals, helping United to secure the European Cup and becoming the youngest player ever to receive the FWA player of the year award. By 26 alcohol addiction and a nocturnal lifestyle ensured that Best’s peak years were behind him; a flurry of different clubs brought fleeting highlights, before he received a liver transplant, drinking the newly fitted organ into submission within three years, and passing away in 2005.

Tomorrow we’ll reveal the first half of the top-20, who could be better than Best? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.