Happy Easter, punters. What with today being the day Jesus came back for the dead ‘n’ all we thought we’d bring you the top ten almighty sporting comebacks I wish I’d bet on.
10. Tiger Woods (US Masters 2010)
Not many people expected Woods to pick up a club this year, let alone return to golf. And of course we don’t yet know how he’ll perform at the Masters, but whatever happens next week the World No1’s return is a godsend for the bookies, who are already coining it in.
9. Jack Burke (US Masters 1956)
Nick Faldo’s comeback from six strokes adrift to snatch the Masters from Greg Norman in 1996 is well-known and was well-backed by yours truly, but it wasn’t as impressive as Jack Burke who overcame the biggest 54-hole deficit when he came back from eight strokes down at the start of the final round to win at Augusta. He even fell to nine back before mounting his rally, defying the bookies, belief and any suggestion that he was in any way a burke.
8. George Foreman (World Heavyweight Championship 1994)
Foreman was 45 years young when he knocked out Michael Moorer to become the heavyweight champion of the world, 20-years after being rope-a-doped by Mohamed Ali. It was a momentous re-awakening for the Born Again Christian – although I couldn’t help but notice that when he was punched in the face he didn’t turn the other cheek.
7. Buffalo Bills (NFL Wildcard 1993)
The Bills staged the greatest comeback in NFL history after going 35-3 down to the Houston Oilers. With Jim Kelly out, it was back-up quarterback Frank Reich who rose to the occasion, saying and throwing a couple of Hail Mary’s as he unleashed four touchdown passes to tie the match at 35 apiece and force overtime. Steve Christie’s 32-yard field goal finished the job for Buffalo.
6. Bob Champion (Grand National 1981)
Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 31 in 1979, given only a 40% chance of survival and, at one point, eight months to live. But Champion lived up to his name and two years later rode 10/1 shot Aldaniti to victory in the Grand National, beating the favourite Spartan Missile to complete one of the most emotional victories in horseracing.
5. Manchester United (Champions League final 1999)
United looked to have blown their chance of winning their second European Cup as they trailed Bayern Munich 1-0 with 90 minutes up. Enter: substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to score two added-time goals to earn Sir Alex Ferguson’s side an unprecedented treble.
4. Lance Armstrong (Tour de France 1999)
When Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 he didn’t think he’d see ever get on a bike again, let alone attempt another Tour. The disease had spread to his lungs, stomach and brain and yet three years on he was winning the Big One for the first time and become the undisputed grand fromage of cycling. For good measure Armstrong went on to win the next six in a row.
3. Liverpool (Champions League final 2005)
The Reds had gone to Istanbul with high hopes of winning a fifth European Cup, but they looked all over as by half-time they were 3-0 down to AC Milan. Unbelievably they staged a fightback as Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xavi Alonso scored three goals in six second-half minutes to level the match. The Reds then sealed their remarkable recovery by winning on penalties.
2. Dennis Taylor (1985)
It was not a matter of if but how many frames Steve Davis was going to beat Dennis Taylor by in the World Snooker championship, after the World No1 stormed into a 7-0 lead in the final. Except, slowly but surely, Taylor crawled back into contention and with the scores 17-17 in the best of 35 battle for the greatest prize in snooker, the match went down to the final black. Davis incredibly missed it and Taylor stole in to take the glory before 18.5 million gobsmacked viewers on BBC1.
1. Arsenal (League Championship 1989)
No side had beaten Liverpool at Anfield for two years and Arsenal had to overcome an extraordinary side by two clear goals on the final day of the season in order to claim their first title in 18 years. Alan Smith scored early in the second half to make things interesting but the Reds looked home and hosed until Michael Thomas burst through to score the all-important second with the last kick of the most dramatic football season.