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.)
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.
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.