Beckham, Giggs and Gascoigne and the Footballers at SPOTY

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2013

Beckham, Giggs and Gascoigne and the Footballers at SPOTY

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    The BBC Sports Personality of the Year is a prestigious sporting award in the UK, handed out each December to the person who has achieved remarkable success and progress during the past 12 months.

    While the initial list for those who might win each year is determined by a panel from the organisers, the eventual winner is decided by public vote, with the top three receiving recognition.

    With such a wide range of sporting personalities to choose from, footballers have traditionally had to have great impact to feature in the top three, with just 20 such instances occurring since its inception in 1954.

    There are no footballers in the running to win the 2013 version of the award, so here's a look back at how each of the previous top three representatives won their place in sporting history.

1958: Bobby Charlton, Runner Up

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    The first year to feature footballers in the top three was 1958, the fifth edition of the award.

    Bobby Charlton came in second place. He was at the time a young player with Manchester United in just his third season as a senior player.

    He had already proven himself a top-quality performer and was part of a successful side, but that team was ruined by the tragic Munich air disaster in February of that year. Charlton was one of those to survive and played a key role in helping United regroup.

1958: Nat Lofthouse, Third Place

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    Nat Lofthouse played his entire career, from 1946 to 1960, for one club: Bolton Wanderers. 

    As one of their greatest ever players there is a statue of him outside the club stadium.

    In '58 he scored both goals in a 2-0 FA Cup final win for his team over Manchester United, while later in the season he also made his final international appearance for England. He ended his international career with the extremely impressive record of scoring 30 goals in 33 games.

1959: Bobby Charlton, Runner Up

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    Charlton repeated his feat of a year earlier to finish as runner up in the '59 edition of the award.

    Halfway through the year he had hit 29 goals in the league to fire a rebuilt United side to second in the league, including an opening-day hat-trick.

1966: Bobby Moore, Winner

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    There was only ever one likely winner in 1966: England's World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore, who lifted the trophy on home soil.

    The one and so far only time that England were triumphant on the greatest footballing stage of all came at a time when Moore was widely acknowledged to be one of the finest defenders in the game, with his knack of intercepting the ball and making tackles a particular art form.

1966: Geoff Hurst, Third Place

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    Another member of the World Cup winning side, Geoff Hurst, came in third place in '66.

    Hurst scored a hat-trick in the final itself, the only player ever to do so, as England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time.

    His second goal was the controversial strike which appeared to bounce on, not over, the goal-line, while his hat-trick strike spawned the immortal line of commentary from Kenneth Wolstenholme on the BBC: "they think it's all is now!"

1969: George Best, Third Place

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    Another Manchester United legend, George Best, hit the highlights of his career when he won the European Cup in '68, while a year later he was almost carrying the team along with Dennis Law.

    He scored more than 50 goals in those two years for Manchester United alone.

    Best placed third for the SPOTY award in 1969.

1970: Bobby Moore, Third Place

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    Four years after they had won the World Cup, England reached the quarter-finals at Mexico '70.

    Bobby Moore was captain once again, though he had to come through being arrested for alleged theft in the build-up to the tournament.

    In 1970, with Moore taking third place this time for the SPOTY award, he also finished as runner-up in the European Footballer of the Year award.

1971: George Best, Runner Up

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    By '71 George Best was one of the better parts of a United team struggling to recapture their previous highs, and discipline problems began to get the better of him as he missed training several times and United continued to change managers.

    There is no doubting his greatness, though, and he still hit 22 goals in the 70-71 season and 27 in 71-72, despite his decline becoming apparent soon after.

1972: Gordon Banks, Runner Up

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    Gordon Banks is perhaps best remembered for his wonderful save in the 1970 World Cup final from Pele's header, but in '72 he was runner up in the SPOTY as he was facing the prospect of never playing football again.

    Banks was involved in a car crash which saw him needing stitches inside his eye socket, which eventually led to the loss of his sight.

    Earlier in the year he had reached an FA Cup semi-final with Stoke, won the League Cup final having saved a penalty in the semis, and also won the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year award.

1979: Kevin Keegan, Third Place

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    Kevin Keegan is often referred to as England's first footballing superstar in the modern media era, as noted for his flamboyant hair and off-pitch actions as for his goalscoring feats while he was a player.

    In 1979 he finished third in the SPOTY after winning the European Footballer of the Year award for a second time, playing at that point with Hamburger SV in Germany.

    He also won the Bundesliga title that year and was on his way toward a European Cup final with his team in the 79-80 season.

    How he still won a SPOTY nomination after his horrendous singing effort is anyone's guess!

1986: Kenny Dalglish, Third Place

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    After a fallow period of seven years without a football personality in the top three, Liverpool's Kenny Dalglish took third place in 1986.

    Having been a player at the club for several years already and an icon in British football, Dalglish took the step into management at the start of the 85-86 season, leading the club as player-manager.

    He won the First Division in his first season, culminating in scoring the winning goal himself at Chelsea in May '86 to clinch the title, before starting in the FA Cup final a few days later which Liverpool also won to clinch the double in his first season.

1990: Paul Gascoigne, Winner

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    Paul Gascoigne showed himself to be one of the great English talents at the World Cup in 1990, dazzling defenders with his footwork and entertaining viewers along the way.

    Playing at the time for Tottenham Hotspur, Gascoigne became the first football winner of the SPOTY since Bobby Moore in '66 when he won in 1990.


1991: Gary Lineker, Third Place

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    A year after Gascoigne another Tottenham player in Gary Lineker finished in third place.

    Lineker was top scorer in his first season back in the First Division, before hitting an FA Cup semi-final brace against rivals Arsenal en-route to Spurs winning the competition in 1991.

    The striker also started the next season in great form as he went on to finish second-highest scorer in 91-92. He also scored nine goals in 11 games for England during 1991, his best international return in a calendar year.

1998: Michael Owen, Winner

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    In 1998, England's national team provided a third footballing winner of the SPOTY in Michael Owen.

    Then only 18 years of age, he had a great second half of the season with his club Liverpool in 1997-98, winning a place in the World Cup squad following the award of the PFA Young Player of the Year and also winning the Premier League Golden Boot.

    At the World Cup, Owen came on as a substitute to score in the group stages, before starting and scoring a famous spectacular goal against Argentina in the knock-out stages.

1999: David Beckham, Runner Up

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    A year after Owen's win, David Beckham was voted as runner-up after a spectacular season at Manchester United.

    He had helped his club to a treble of trophy victories with the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, the latter in spectacularly late fashion.

    Beckham provided the corners to both late goals in that match as United beat Bayern Munich.

2001: David Beckham, Winner

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    Two years later, Beckham went one better and won the SPOTY award.

    His performances for United and England were the driving force behind the award and it marked a dramatic turnaround from his nationwide vilification after his red card at World Cup 98, which many felt cost England the chance to progress.

    Beckham's big England contribution in particular came in the shape of a late free-kick against Greece, which sent the country to the 2002 World Cup when they otherwise would have missed out.

2001: Michael Owen, Third Place

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    Three years after he won the award, Michael Owen was nominated again and finished in third place in 2001.

    Owen's goals had been of paramount importance in his team's improbable cup success, as Liverpool won no less than five trophies in six months that year.

    His most memorable contribution was a late FA Cup final brace to sink Arsenal, after the Gunners had dominated most of the match and initially led 1-0, only for Owen to turn the game around.

2002: David Beckham, Runner Up

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    Beckham continued his and Owen's monopolisation of football's contribution to SPOTY when he was voted in second place in 2002.

    The United midfielder hit a career-best 16 goals during 2001-02 in which was perhaps his best season overall for United, though he broke his foot late on in the season. That summer saw him partake in the World Cup for England and he scored a winning penalty against Argentina in the group stage.

    He is so far the only footballer to feature in the top three on three separate occasions.

2005: Steven Gerrard, Third Place

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    In 2005, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard came in third place after leading his club to the UEFA Champions League trophy.

    The midfielder was the driving force behind his team's run to the final and subsequent victory as he scored a late goal in the final group stage game and then scored the first goal in the final itself, en-route to an inspired comeback and penalty shoot-out victory.

    Gerrard followed that up by starting the 2005-06 season in great form, on his way to his best goalscoring season ever at that point (23 goals).

2009: Ryan Giggs, Winner

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    The last time a footballer featured in the top three was four years ago in 2009 and Ryan Giggs was the winner.

    Manchester United's veteran midfielder is still playing now, aged 40, but in 2009 he surpassed the outfield record of Premier League appearances, formerly held by the late Gary Speed. He also signed a new contract in that year which would ensure he stayed at the club past the 20th anniversary of his debut.

    Giggs also scored his 100th Premier League goal in November of that year.