Whilst elite sport usually comes down to winning and losing, there’s a lot to be said for appreciating those who compete in a fair manner and respect their competition. We’ve taken a look at some of the greatest heart-warming moments of great sportsmanship from over the years.
Doncaster Rovers - Football
On the opening day of the 2015/16 season, Doncaster’s Harry Forrester tried to return the ball to Bury ‘keeper Christian Walton after he kicked the ball out of play following an injury, only to see it loop over Walton’s head from 40 yards out. Rovers manager Paul Dickov ordered his team to allow Leon Clarke to run the ball in unopposed from the kick-off for a Bury equaliser.
Sachin Tendulkar - Cricket
There are numerous cases of players walking off in cricket, with Sachin Tendulkar one of the more high-profile ‘walkers’. During a World Cup match in 2011 between India and the West Indies, umpire Steve Davis rejected Ravi Rampaul’s appeal for caught behind against Sachin. However, despite being given not out, the ‘Little Master’ knew he’d hit the ball and simply walked off.
Jack Nicklaus - Golf
The 1969 Ryder Cup at the Royal Birkdale Club had come down to the last singles match between Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. Nicklaus made a four-foot putt for par, meaning Jacklin had to make his two-foot putt to tie the match and therefore the competition. However, Nicklaus picked his ball up, conceding the putt. He told Jacklin: “I don’t think you would have missed that putt, but in these circumstances, I would never give you the opportunity”
Tana Umaga - Rugby Union
In a Test match against Wales in June 2003, New Zealand picked up the ball in an attacking position following a turnover sparked by Jerry Collins tackling Welsh captain Colin Chablis. Tana Umaga, though, did not join in the attack. Instead, he turned to Chablis, rolled him over into the recovery position, and ensured that the Welshman had not swallowed his gum shield.
Abbey D'agostino and Nikki Hamblin - Athletics
In the women’s 5,000m heats at the Rio Olympics, New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin tumbled into American Abbey D’Agostino around four laps from the finish. D’Agostino helped Hamblin up to her feet but then crumbled herself, in horrible pain. Hamblin would have been expected to just keep chasing for her own race, but she returned the favour and helped the American up. Both made their way around the remaining mile of the race, needless to say, finishing last, but were awarded places in the final following protests from their respective teams.
Robbie Fowler - Football
In a key top-of-the-table clash in the Premier League, the last thing you expect to see is a player go down in the box and insist it’s not a penalty. Robbie Fowler did just that, though, against Arsenal in March 1997, as he tripped up in the act of rounding David Seaman in a one-on-one situation. He immediately turned to the referee waving away the penalty that he had been awarded. Fowler took the spot-kick himself, and it was a possibly-deliberate mishit as Seaman saved it. Jason McAteer converted on the rebound.
Andrew Flintoff - Cricket
The second Test of the 2005 Ashes series will go down as one of the greatest cricket matches of all time. As England won, all-rounder Flintoff showed his class by consoling Australia’s Brett Lee.
Lionel Messi - Football
In this match between Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano, Messi went down inside the box and the referee looked certain to award a penalty. The Argentine quickly got to his feet and told the referee that there was no foul, to which the referee gave a thumbs up and allowed the game to continue. Great sportsmanship from one of the world’s best players.
Andy Roddick - Tennis
Andy Roddick faced off against Fernando Verdasco in the quarter-final of the 2005 Rome Masters. The American had match point and Verdasco’s serve to the left tramline was called out, giving Roddick the win. However, he noticed that the mark left by the ball was on the line and called the serve good. Verdasco was given a reprieve and actually went on the win the match.
Jan Vertonghen - Football
Whilst playing for Ajax, Vertonghen accidentally put the ball in the net when trying to give the ball back to the opposition after they kicked it out of play for an Ajax player to receive treatment. Vertonghen then ordered his players to allow the opposition to walk through and score.
MS Dhoni - Cricket
Dhoni showed his sportsmanship when he quickly came to the aid of South African batsman Faf Du Plessis. The batsman had severe cramp in his legs and Dhoni was the first one to help him by stretching out his legs.
Paolo Di Canio - Football
During a Premier League match between West Ham and Everton back in 2000, the game was tied 1-1 late on. Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard injured his knee and was down, leaving an open goal. The ball was crossed to Di Canio, but rather than put it into the empty net, he caught it, allowing Gerrard to receive treatment. His act of sportsmanship won him FIFA’s Fair Play Award in 2001.
Beknaz Almazbekov - Football
Galatasaray’s U14 captain Beknaz Almazbekov produced a great sportsmanship moment when he intentionally missed a penalty against Istanbulspor. He was awarded the spot-kick after stumbling over himself inside the penalty area but despite telling the referee what had happened, he was told that he had to take the kick, so he missed it on purpose.
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez - Formula 1
For a moment, Fernando Alonso looked like he might have joined the awful list of fatal victims of Formula 1 crashes, as his McLaren flipped through the air following a high-speed collision with Esteban Gutierrez in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Thankfully, the ever-growing advances in safety in the sport meant that Alonso was somehow able to climb out of his wrecked vehicle, although he sustained rib damage that caused him to be held out of the next race in Bahrain. He left the car, and then quickly turned to Gutierrez to shake the hand of the Haas driver. Stewards at the race agreed that the crash – which generated two separate forces measured at 45G or more – was a racing incident with neither driver to blame. To be able to shake hands like that after a moment where your life flashes by you in a dizzying blur, though, is quite extraordinary.
Miroslav Klose - Football
Miroslav Klose may be known for his goal-scoring prowess, but unlike many strikers, he is seemingly willing to give up a goal too. Having handled the ball into the net against Napoli, the German was shocked to see that a goal had been given. Instead of celebrating, he approached the official and asked him to disallow the goal, which he did.
Shawn Crawford - Athletics
Crawford came fourth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but the second and third place runners were disqualified for stepping on the lines, meaning Crawford was awarded a silver medal. A week later, Crawford sent his medal to one of the disqualified players with a letter saying: “I know this won’t replace the moment, but I want you to have this because I believe it’s rightfully yours.- Shawn Crawford.”
Oliver Kahn - Football
Kahn won the hearts of millions around the world when he consoled the Valencia players after the UEFA Champions League final in 2001. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper could have celebrated their victory but showed true sportsmanship by consoling the opposition first.
Jack Sock - Tennis
Sock was playing against Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt in Hopman Cup at Perth Arena when the umpire called a Hewitt serve as out. Sock urged his opponent to challenge the call because he felt it was in. Hewitt challenged the call and was awarded the point. Hewitt went on to win the match.
Aaron Hunt - Football
Werder Bremen’s Aaron Hunt went down in the penalty area and was given a spot kick by the referee, but the player immediately owned up to diving and told the official to change his decision. The referee did so and Hunt has been showered with praise ever since.
Alistair Brownlee - World Triathlon
Alistair Brownlee gave up his chance of winning the World Triathlon by helping his brother Jonny over the line. Jonny was dazed and stopped at the side of the road, but his brother Alistair put his arm around him and virtually carried him across the line.
Leicester City - Football
In the second round of the Carling Cup in 2007, Leicester were losing 1-0 against Nottingham Forest when the match was abandoned due to Leicester defender Clive Clarke collapsing in the dressing room. In the replay, the Foxes allowed Forest to walk through and score to replicate the circumstances from the initial match.