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Most Emotional Moments in UK Sport

We collect and recall some of most emotional moments in European sporting history that united spectators and brought them to tears.

There is no doubt that sport is an emotional experience, whether you’re the player or the spectator. Talented and heroic athletes have the ability to inspire and unite by making the seemingly impossible, possible. From unexpected victories to heart-wrenching losses, we bring you the most emotional moments in European sporting history to date.

Liverpool wins the Champions League Final on penalties – 2005

AC Milan, the match favourite, took the lead with a goal in the first minute, causing Liverpool fans grief right at the very beginning, conjuring expectations of a loss. The next two goals by AC Milan seemed to seal Liverpool’s fate. However, the second half saw Liverpool serve a major comeback with a dramatic six-minute whirlwind of goals to match Milan 3 – 3.

A match won on penalties, this final was a nail-biting experience for Liverpool fans. The team had a point to prove, considering the last time they tasted European glory was in 1985. It was goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek’s opportunity to shine when he made the decisive save in a “Bruce Grobbelaar’esque” moment, to propel the Reds to their fifth European Cup victory with a final scoreline of 3 – 2 on penalties. What a save!

England’s surprising win at The Ashes, Fifth Test – 2005

The ending of a series that has been dubbed ‘the best ever’ in cricket, seemed doomed for England on the morning of the fifth test. England had lost four wickets before lunch and were leading by 133, with only five hours left. Kevin Pietersen, who was dropped twice, knocked a super 158 and Ashley Giles added 59 before England were bowled out for 335 at The Oval.

Australia’s hope of victory was dampened after the light started to diminish after only four balls, eventually causing the umpires to declare a draw. England celebrated appropriately with tributes by the Queen and Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as a victory parade in London.

First-time victory for England at Rugby World Cup 2003

This game is a testament to the kind of tension a little last-minute victory can alleviate. Starting out the final game with hopes of a first time ever Rugby World Cup victory, England seemed defeated until the last minute. Frayed nerves were evident as the game went into extra time with the scores level at 17-17. This, however, made Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal kick to seal an English victory in the final minute all the more satisfying.

A tear shed by Gascoigne at the 1990 World Cup semi-final

Unfortunately not all emotional moments in sport are happy ones. It started off as a glorious game for England, and for Paul Gascoigne in particular. A relative newbie on the team, his spectacular performance kept improving up until the point that Thomas Berthold came down and the yellow card against Gascoigne went up.

Having given his all, the realisation that his error would prevent him from playing in the World Cup final saw Gascoigne with a wobbly lip, shedding a few tears. He was so disappointed, he even withdrew from the decisive penalty shoot-out. His grief seemed to be quite appropriate, as England ended up losing to Germany and were eliminated from the tournament.

An emotional victory for Britain at the 2015 Davis Cup

What could be more of an emotional experience than winning Grand Slam titles or Olympic gold in tennis? Securing the British team’s victory at the Davis Cup, according to Andy Murray. Murray’s top playing saw Britain win the Davis cup for the first time in 79 years, and is a first for Britain in the open era.

It also placed Great Britain third on the all-time winners list. The win came at the end of a long run of successive singles won by Murray that year. Murray’s emotional state after his triumph over Belgium’s David Goffin was a testament to true British patriotism.

Three gold medals for Hoy at the Beijing Olympics 2008

It goes to show that a good display of athletic prowess and fine sportsmanship gets the recognition it deserves. Chris Hoy, the cyclist who won three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was the first Briton to claim that amount of medals at any Games in 100 years. After his next two gold medals at the London Olympics, which made him the most successful British Olympian by virtue of gold medals achieved, he was aptly knighted. It can be agreed by all that the resounding emotion throughout Britain on that front, was pride.

Lewis Hamilton wins his first F1 Championship in 2008

Lewis Hamilton has collected a few achievements in his driving career. But his 2008 victory was arguably the most significant, as both the youngest and first driver of colour to have won the F1 driver’s championship. It was the way in which he did it, which was so typical of his ambitious and often gung-ho driving style, that had spectators thrilled.

After a tough season it seemed like Hamilton’s dream had come to an end until, on the last corner of the last lap of the last race of the 2008 F1 circuit, something special happened. Hamilton swiftly passed Timo Glock, who was disadvantaged by dry tyres on a now slick track and this risky move saw him sweep into 5th place, securing his lead in the overall championship.

Katherine Grainger finally wins Gold at 2012 London Olympics

Jokingly referred to as the eternal bridesmaid, Katherine Grainger inspired spectators when her years of perseverance and hard work finally paid off. Olympic silver didn’t seem to be good enough for the talented rower, who had won it three times in row, only to continue to her fourth Olympics with a steely determination for gold.

Grainger was paired up with Anna Watkins, and the two women were spurred on by hopeful supporters and emotional family members to win a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Admittedly, the promised date with David Beckham should they win might have been a motivating factor.

Red Rum becomes the most successful horse in history

After a glorious victory in 1973 and 1974, it was comparably disappointing for horse and owner when he came second in 1975 and 1976. What seemed like a finished career ended up being a break in a string of record-breaking triumph, as Red Rum created history when he won the 1977 Grand National championship at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England.

The Grand National is considered one of the toughest steeplechase races, and Red Rum’s record is yet to be broken, making the victory that much more inspiring.

England’s first (and only) Football World Cup in 1966

As most history-making matches are, the 1966 Football World Cup Final was particularly tense and controversial. English supporters were watching avidly, and British television recorded its biggest audience ever to date. After extending the game to an agonising length of time, England finally won.

It was a proud moment as the English football team raised the Jules Rimet trophy above their heads in triumph, embedding the date deep into English football-fans’ memories as one of the greatest moments ever.

Arsenal’s Invincibles

Contributed by Tony Attwood of Untold Arsenal

“When it comes to football we Arsenal fans do shrugs quite well. Take 11 July 2003 for example: Peterborough 1, Arsenal 0. It was a pre-season friendly, and the home fans went crazy, singing like they’d won the league. And those of us from Arsenal? We shrugged. Like I said, we’re quite good at shrugging.

“Fast forward to the final of the Premier League of the 2003-04 season. It’s the 15 May 2004, and of the 37 league games played, we had not lost one. A tireless effort by Leicester to retain possession of the ball meant they were leading, and we were so nervous we had no lunch, no beer, and our stomachs were churning. And at 26 minutes Leicester scored.

“Later we got two goals, Highbury erupted, and for the first and only time at a football match, 45 years after my dad (sadly no longer with us) took me to the stadium for the first time, I cried.”

UK’s Billy Morgan lands the first ever Quadruple Cork

Contributed by Harry Davis of Extreme Sports International

“14th April 2015, Livigno, Italy, was a day etched in snowboarding history as aerial acrobat Billy Morgan landed the first ever Quadruple Cork 1800. For the uninitiated, that's four off-axis flips with five full rotations, speeding off a jump that took over 40 hours to build, at speeds exceeding 45 mph. The slightest hint of disorientation at that velocity means a short break to the nearest hospital and a week's subscription to the local anaesthetic. Fortunately, Morgan is one of the best in the world at tricking with high-stakes and came away from the attempts clean, without injury and his name scribed in the book of legends.”

"So stoked. I’ve been thinking about this for so long, it’s such a relief to have it done. It could have been cleaner, but I’m still pumped!" - Billy Morgan

Sir Steve Redgrave wins 5th consecutive gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics

Contributed by Luke Rees of Awe 365

“My most emotional moment in sport was in 2000 when Sir Steve Redgrave won a fifth Olympic gold medal in consecutive games. His achievement began in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics by winning the coxed four. He then won the coxless pair in Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta before winning the coxless four in Sydney.

“Sir Steve Redgrave is the only person to win five consecutive Olympic golds in an endurance event. He also combated diabetes, colitis and a broken arm in the Sydney Olympics build up.

“I was lucky to be there, to feel the crowd's emotion, to hold my breath as they won by 0.38 seconds. As a rower, I know how emotional you can feel after a race. So when Matthew Pinsent clambered over James Foster, to hug and congratulate his long time rowing partner, I had tears streaming down my face.”

Liverpool's thrilling comeback against Borussia Dortmund - 2016

Coming back from behind in the knockout stages of football competitions is never easy, especially when playing against a team that hasn’t lost for 4 months. But that is exactly what Liverpool did on the 15th of April 2016, when they came from behind to beat Borussia Dortmund at Anfield to advance to the semi-finals of the Europa league. Within the first 8 minutes the hosts were already two goals behind, and that’s how the first half finished. Jurgen Klopp then has his team talk, and during the second half, Liverpool lived up to their European pedigree of years gone by.

The second half saw Liverpool pull it back to 2-1 with a quick goal from Origi, expertly slotted in past Weidenfeller. But it was not to last, as Marco Reus curled one past Mignolet to restore the guests’ two goal advantage and at 3 - 1 most teams would’ve simply folded. But Liverpool were not done as talisman Coutinho, and then Sakho scored, levelling the score at 3-3 in the 78th minute.

As it stood, Dortmund lead on away goals, but Liverpool only need one more to advance to the semi-finals, and 13 minutes later Lovren gave them their fourth goal, with a header off the cross from James Milner. With only three minutes of extra time left, Dortmund couldn’t muster up another goal, the Reds were in the semi-final and Anfield had served up another unforgettable evening of European football. It is without any doubt one of the best comeback wins we’ve seen in a long time.Rick Bosch, Monday 11:15 AM.

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