Year of 2020 was sport’s 12 months to forget – but it had some highlights

Has sport ever provided more salvation for people than it did in 2020?

The last 12 months have been filled with unprecedented despair and depression due to the arrival of Covid-19.

The impact of the pandemic on our lives has been phenomenal – and continues to be – for reasons we all want to forget, but might never be able to.

Huge events had to be postponed or even cancelled. Most notably the Tokyo Olympics, Euro 2020, Wimbledon, The Open and Ryder Cup in America.

Yet amid all the sadness and gloom, sport has fought back to provide some solace and sunshine, like a beacon of hope to help fill long days and light up even longer and darker nights.

But even Covid-19 couldn't stop Liverpool from romping to their first league title in 30 years.

All the onset of coronavirus did was delay the inevitable, but once the football season resumed in June under surreal guidelines following a suspension of three months, there was no-one to catch Jurgen Klopp's runaway leaders.

Ironically, it was Manchester City's defeat at Chelsea that confirmed the worst kept secret in football – and Liverpool supporters could finally celebrate the historic achievement. What's an extra few weeks when you've waited three decades?

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Sadly, captain Jordan Henderson had to lift the Premier League trophy in an empty Kop due to the on-going restrictions, but when rules allow the red half of Merseyside is sure to stage the mother of all parties.

Elsewhere in football, Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph with a 2-1 win over Chelsea inside an empty Wembley Stadium, just eight months after taking charge, while back in March City claimed a third League Cup triumph in succession.

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In August, Bayern Munich won the Champions League in Lisbon, while David Marshall became the toast of Scotland when his penalty save in a shoot-out against Serbia in Belgrade secured Steve Clarke's side a place at the delayed Euros. It will be their first major tournament since 1998.

In F1, Lewis Hamilton made it a magnificent seven world titles, matching Michael Schumacher's record to establish himself as arguably the greatest driver of all time.

He did it with three races to spare and in the process, overtook Schumacher's record of race wins. Hamilton has also had more poles and podium finishes than any driver that's gone before him. Remarkable.

Tyson Fury had a score to settle with Deontay Wilder and did just this, with a stunning performance to light up Las Vegas to become WBC world heavyweight champion and complete a remarkable journey back to the top of boxing.

Fury and fellow Brit Anthony Joshua, who defended his own titles earlier this month, now hold all the belts available and look set for a titanic showdown in 2022 to see who will be the undisputed king of the ring.

  • Tyson Fury and wife Paris show off £1k Versace matching outfits for Xmas date night

Cricket was one of the first sports to return, with England beating West Indies on home soil in a much welcomed Test series, before going on to thrash Pakistan as well.

In Rugby Union, England won a delayed Six Nations and then the Autumn Nations Cup with a thrilling extra-time triumph over France at Twickenham, St Helens claimed the most dramatic Grand Final win in history with a last-gasp try to sink arch-rivals Wigan and Ronnie O'Sullivan became world snooker champion for a sixth time.

Bryson Dechambeau defied the physics of golf to charge to victory in the US Open, fellow American Dustin Johnson claimed his first Green Jacket at the Masters in November and tennis's word No.1 Novak Djokovic was thrown out of the US Open at Flushing Meadow for hitting the ball at a female line judge.

But despite all of the drama above, sadness remained the overriding feeling throughout 2020 as we lost some of sport's true icons and legends.

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These included Kobe Bryant, World Cup winners Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles, Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry, Ray Clemence, Peter Alliss, Dean Jones, Harry Gregg, Peter Bonetti, David Capel, Papa Bouba Diop, Gerard Houllier, Willie Thorn, Mike Slemen, Alan Minter, Paolo Rossi and, perhaps the greatest footballer in history, Diego Maradona.

Largely it has been a year to forget, but no-one will ever forget Maradona. Let's hope the next one will be remembered for all the right reasons.

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