Every year seems to have defining moments in sports history linked to it, and 2009 was no different. It only feels like yesterday that we were heralding the start of '09, and now here we are reviewing it.
My look back at 2008 proved very popular last year, winning article of the day, and hopefully this one can reach a similar level of success. There is certainly no shortage of material to write on after another action packed year.
In this slideshow, you will see 25 great moments from 12 different sports from all around the globe, each with their own unique place in history. There have been blissful highs, tragic lows, and more scandals than you could shake a stick at, all of which make doing a review on the year all the better!
The 25 slides will be arranged in chronological order with the final slide being a list of the 10 best moments of this year.
So sit back, relax, and reminisce about the greatest sporting moments of 2009!
The 43rd Super Bowl, watched by a record American audience of 98.7 million people, saw the Pittsburgh Steelers crowned the undisputed NFL champions.
Their opponents in this global extravaganza were an Arizona Cardinals team without a title since 1947, the longest championship drought in the league. Their dreams of ending the 62 years of hurt were thwarted by the Steelers, however, as they secured a record sixth NFL title.
The two sides traded scores until the fourth quarter, with a particular highlight coming at the end of the second when Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison intercepted Kurt Warner's pass in the endzone before embarking on a 100-yard return touchdown, the longest play in Super Bowl history.
The score going into the fourth quarter was 20-7 in Pittsburgh's favor, but Arizona came out strongly in the final stage, and with less than a minute on the clock, had clawed their way into a 23-20 lead.
There was more drama to come, though.
Pittsburgh's quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a short touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes who just managed to land on his toes in the corner of the endzone before falling out of bounds with just 35 seconds on the clock in what proved to be the decisive score of the match.
Their sixth title separates them from five time winners San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys as the most successful franchise in Super Bowl history.
Short of the World Cup, which only comes around every four years, the RBS Six Nations is the biggest Rugby Union tournament in the Northern Hemisphere.
Going into the final day of the tournament there was everything to play for as Ireland, so often the nearly men of the Six Nations, met Wales.
Ireland was chasing its first Grand Slam since 1948, while Wales knew they could snatch the title from Irish fingertips with a big enough win.
Elsewhere, England and Scotland were competing for the Calcutta Cup and Italy was desperately trying to avoid the wooden spoon, an "award" given to a team who loses every match in the tournament.
As it was, the eyes of the Welsh reflected the color of the Ireland shirts—green with envy, as captain Brian O'Driscoll lifted the Six Nations trophy after securing the Grand Slam, courtesy of a late drop-goal from Ronan O'Gara.
Such was the close nature of the competition that year that Wales, who could have ended the day as champions, actually finished in fourth while England, who had been relatively poor up to that point, finished as runners-up thanks to their win over the auld enemy.
But it was the Irish eyes that had the broadest smiles that night as 61 years of hurt were finally put to rest.
While 2009 saw many highs in the rugby world, it also saw new lows as the domestic English game was rocked by arguably the worst scandal in its history.
On the 12th of April, Harlequins met Leinster in the Heineken Cup quarterfinal. During the later stages of the match, with Harlequins losing 6-5, the previously subbed fly-half Nick Evans came on as a "blood replacement" for winger Tom Williams, who was seen winking to the bench as he came off the pitch spewing blood from his mouth.
This gave Harlequins a recognized goal kicker back on the pitch, something that could have proved vital in the outcome of the match. As it was, Evans missed a penalty, and the match ended 6-5.
The true extent of the problem didn't surface until months later, however, when it was revealed Williams was given a fake blood capsule to bite so Evans could be brought back on.
He was then taken immediately down the tunnel and cut in the mouth to make the "injury" look legitimate.
This scandal, dubbed "Bloodgate," prompted claims that this sort of cheating was rife within the game and sparked furious debate as to how such actions could be prevented in the future.
Whatever they do, though, rugby's reputation has been severely tarnished by this scandal, and a lot of work is required to restore it.
The 2009 Champions League final was, for many, the dream match. Arguably the two best club sides in the world faced off in a match littered with sub-plots.
Barcelona was on the verge of securing an historic treble, 10 years after their opponents, Manchester United, had captured the English equivalent.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the sub-plots, however, was the battle between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the two players widely regarded as the best in the world.
The match, played at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, featured the holders United looking to become the first team to retain the rebranded Champions League, while Barcelona was looking to confirm their status as the best club in the world.
United began well, but it was Barcelona who grabbed the first goal through Samuel Eto'o after just 10 minutes. From then on, Barca gave Sir Alex Ferguson's men a footballing lesson as they controlled the game.
The match was put to bed after 70 minutes when Messi, criticized before the game for not possessing the same strength or aerial ability as Ronaldo, rose to head the ball beyond Edwin Van Der Sar.
The match finished 2-0 to Barca as the Spanish side completed a unique treble that reaffirmed their status as the best side in Europe.
The FA Cup is the oldest and most prestigious domestic cup competition in world football. Some may say it trumps even the Champions League or Copa Libertadores as the best club tournament around.
The 128th FA Cup final pitched Chelsea against the unlikely finalists Everton.
Chelsea were the pre-match favorites, but Everton's defeat of Manchester United in the semifinals let everybody know they would be no pushovers.
This was confirmed after just 25 seconds when Louis Saha scored the fastest goal in FA Cup final history to give Everton the lead. Drogba leveled the sides after 21 minutes before Frank Lampard's stunning strike gave Chelsea their fifth FA Cup success.
The result also ensured Ashley Cole collected a fifth winners' medal, the first man to do so since the 19th century.
It was the perfect goodbye for temporary manager Guus Hiddink as he returned to international management, and the perfect remedy for Chelsea after they had narrowly missed out on a place in the Champions League final under highly controversial circumstances.
The 2009 French Open was notable for many reasons, but two stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, finally lost a match at Roland Garros, the first time he had done so. Such was his dominance on the surface that he was already widely regarded as the best clay court player in history, despite being just 23.
After a record-breaking 31 consecutive wins at the tournament, and an equally impressive 32 sets won in a row, his fourth round loss to Robin Soderling was one of the shocks of the season.
Soderling went on to meet Roger Federer in the final but couldn't pull of another shock as, with his nemesis Nadal out of the way, Federer finally completed a long awaited career Grand Slam.
His victory was also his 14th Slam, equaling Pete Sampras' record (although Sampras never won at Roland Garros), which led to some experts exclaiming him the undisputed greatest player of all time.
For a period in the early years of the decade, Real Madrid were universally known as the "Galacticos" as, under President Florentino Perez, they made a point in signing the biggest and best names in world football.
With the likes of Zidane, Ronaldo, Beckham, and Figo, they became the biggest club in the world.
After that era ended, and Perez moved on, Madrid returned to much lower profile targets. That is until Perez regained the presidency earlier this year and embarked upon project Galacticos II.
Two transfers in particular caught the world's eye. First, Kaka moved from AC Milan in a world record £56 million deal, breaking Zidane's £46.5 million transfer that previously held the record.
Even this monumental figure was dwarfed a few days later, however, as Madrid captured the signature of World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo for £80 million.
In just a couple of days, Madrid had almost doubled the previous world record transfer fee, a sure sign if ever there was one that the second coming of the Galacticos was underway.
It seems the LA Lakers are almost permanent fixtures in the NBA Finals this decade, having six appearances, more than any other team.
Their opponents on this occasion were the Orlando Magic, the first time they had reached a final without Shaquille O'Neal.
The Lakers were appearing in their 30th final, the most in NBA history, and after such a dominant decade, it was fitting they should come away with the victory.
They won the first two games with home court advantage, but the Magic managed to claw one back in the crucial third game in Orlando.
Even the home advantage wasn't enough to stop the rampant Lakers in the next two games, however, as Phil Jackson's men won 99-91 and 99-86 respectively to take the title.
Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP, while Jackson picked up his 10th NBA Championship as a coach, the most ever.
Cricket has a long standing reputation for being a slow paced, and at times boring game, but June's ICC World Twenty20 tournament went a long way to destroying that image.
Many see this form of the game as the future of cricket, and there would be very few complaints if it consistently reached these heights.
From the very first day of the tournament there was drama as minnows the Netherlands toppled the hosts England with a final ball victory.
The two teams that stole the show, however, were Pakistan and Sri Lanka who, fittingly, met each other in the final.
In the end, it was Pakistan who were led to victory by the irrepressible Shahid Afridi, leaving man of the series Tillakarante Dilshan and his Sri Lanka side distraught.
The second ever ICC World Twenty20 was an amazing spectacle, and one that looks set to go from strength to strength in the future.
Every four years in Rugby Union, the British and Irish Lions travel to the southern hemisphere to take on one of the heavyweights of the sport. This time it was the turn of South Africa, the first time they had hosted the Lions since the historic tour of 1997.
The Springboks were beaten on that occasion, the last time the Lions had won a series, and had been waiting 12 years for their revenge. After winning the first test fairly convincingly, the Springboks had their eyes on a series sweep.
On June 27, the two sides met for the all-important second test. The Lions knew they had to win to stand any chance of recovering the series, while South Africa knew they could put it to bed with a victory of their own.
In a thrilling game, the scores were tied 25-25 as the clock ticked into second-half overtime when South Africa was awarded a penalty inside their own half.
Morne Steyn backed himself up to get the three points from no less than 53 yards out. As he lined up, millions around the world knew that if he missed, the Lions still had a chance to at least draw the series, but if he scored, the Springboks would have finally avenged their '97 defeat.
As it was, Steyn handled the pressure brilliantly, knocking the long-range penalty over like it was the easiest thing in the world, and the wait for another successful British and Irish Lions Tour went on.
They won the meaningless third test 28-9, but that was no consolation for what amounted to a 2-1 series defeat.
2009 was the year Roger Federer, established himself as the greatest tennis player of all time.
He answered almost every criticism of him, such as never winning the French Open and not having as many Grand Slams as Sampras, so that he stacks up against anyone in any area.
It was at Wimbledon that he was elevated to such a high status, as he surpassed Sampras' 14 Grand Slams after another thrilling final.
Last year's Wimbledon finale was arguably the greatest tennis match ever, and the fact that this one can be mentioned in the same breath is testament to how good it was.
It contained an epic 77 games, the most in any men's final, as Federer eventually defeated the valiant Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 3-6, 16-14.
The high scoring nature of the final set gives you some idea of how close the whole match was, and Roddick can consider himself extraordinarily unlucky not to have walked away with the Wimbledon crown.
Unfortunately for him, however, he came up against the greatest tennis player in the history of the sport.
While remembering the high points of a year is always nice, one cannot ignore the inevitable lows that come with them.
2009 saw the death of a genuine football legend as Sir Bobby Robson lost his 18-year battle with cancer.
Robson had an illustrious career both on the pitch and off it, making 20 appearances for England before going on to manage them to a World Cup semi-final in 1990.
It wasn't just the people of his native England that he touched, though.
He twice managed in Holland with PSV Eindhoven, Portugal with Sporting CP and Porto, and in Spain with Barcelona, where he mentored a young Jose Mourinho.
He also took charge of lowly Ipswich, leading them to unlikely success domestically and even in Europe, winning the UEFA Cup in 1981.
The football world lost a once-in-a-lifetime character on Jul. 31. Bobby Robson, R.I.P, you will be missed.
If there is one sportsman in the world more impressive than Usain Bolt at the moment, I have not seen him.
Bolt continues to push the realms of what is physically possible, amazing spectators along the way. Last year he blasted into the public eye by sweeping all before him at the Olympics.
This year in Berlin, he actually improved on what everyone thought was a near-perfect performance.
His mind-blowing 9.69 second 100m sprint at the Beijing Olympics was smashed in Berlin as he ran an inconceivable 9.58, shaving 0.11 seconds off his own record.
What was perhaps even more amazing, however, was his 200m sprint a few days later as Bolt shaved the same margin off his own record to run it in 19.19 seconds.
Quite simply, these performances made Bolt the greatest sprinter of all time, if he wasn't already, and proved that the lightning bolt can, indeed, strike twice.
While the Athletics World Championships were a dream for Usain Bolt, they turned into a nightmare for South African runner Caster Semenya.
After romping to victory in the women's 800 meters, the governing body of world athletics, the IAAF, asked South Africa to test her among doubts whether she was actually female.
The resulting speculation may have caused irreversible damage to Semenya's reputation, although the inevitable pressure it placed on the 18-year-old's shoulders was shrugged off in style as she easily took gold in Berlin.
In the end, it was decided that she was "innocent of any wrongdoing," and would keep her gold medal, but the damage had already been done by the IAAF's poor handling of a delicate situation.
I spoke earlier of Twenty20 potentially being the future of cricket but, for now, the Test game still reigns supreme, and the tournament that garners the most interest in that field is the Ashes.
England and Australia met in this series having exchanged the Urn in the most recent tournaments. England won in 2005 in arguably the greatest Ashes series ever, while Australia re-asserted their dominance two years later with a 5-0 series whitewash.
The first test in Cardiff gave signs of the excitement that was to come. England saved a draw after stubborn innings by Paul Collingwood and a heroic last stand by Monty Panesar and James Anderson. Along the way, Ricky Ponting had reached the major milestone for racking up 11,000 runs.
The second test, played at Lord's, the home of cricket, went better for the hosts. Going into the final day, Australia needed 209 runs to win, a feasible target. They got less than 100, however, as England recorded their first Ashes win at Lord's since 1934.
The third test ended in another draw while the fourth was dominated by the Aussies, cruising to victory by an innings and 80 runs. This meant that the final test would be the decisive one, as well as Andrew Flintoff's last test match for England.
Huge performances by the likes of Stuart Broad, who sparked an Australian collapse, Graham Swann, who got the winning wicket, and debutant Jonathon Trott contributed to another historic Ashes series, and another successful one for the English.
The Southern Hemiphere's equivalent of the Six Nations, the Tri-Nations tournament is arguably even more fiercely contested than the World Cup.
Just three countries take part, New Zealand, the default number one team in the world, South Africa, the current World Champions, and Australia, who have a long standing reputation for pushing the All Blacks close as to who is the best.
All three teams are of the highest quality and, as such, all three stand a good chance of winning the prestigious trophy.
The whole tournament was as intriguing and exciting as was expected, with a host of milestones and records being broken along the way.
George Smith reached 100 caps for Australia, John Smit became the highest capped Test captain in international rugby union history (60), and Dan Carter became the highest points scorer in Tri-Nations history, overtaking Andrew Mehrtens' tally of 328.
The stand-out performer of the tournament, however, had to be South Africa's Morne Steyn.
He set a new tournament record of 95 points in a season, with his best game coming against the All Blacks in which he scored all 31 of South Africa's points, a phenomenal individual achievement.
With a player in that sort of form, it is no wonder that the Springboks clinched the title in their final game, beating the All Blacks 32-29.
2009 was a remarkable year for tennis. For Roger Federer it was almost a dream year, completing a career Grand Slam and surpassing Sampras' record, but the US Open was one blot on his otherwise faultless season.
He went into the tournament having won the previous five, and so was the favourite to add to his record-breaking Grand Slam tally.
Naturally, when he reached the final, facing Juan Martin del Potro, the belief had grown even stronger. But Potro pulled off a shock victory (3-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2) to deny Federer a record sixth consecutive US Open title.
Even if he had triumphed, however, the performance of the tournament had already been wrapped up by the returning Kim Clijsters.
Having taken over two years off from the sport, the former world no. 1 was entered as an unseeded wildcard, and went on to dominate throughout the tournament.
The final was a typical straight sets victory over Caroline Wozniacki and, in the process, Clijsters became the first mother to win a Grand Slam for almost 30 years.
The whole boxing world knew that when Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. said he was hanging up his gloves, it was only temporary. It was a matter of when, and not if we would ever see him in the ring again.
The answer to that question was Sept. 19, as he took on Juan Manuel Marquez in his big comeback fight, and what an impressive comeback fight it was.
From the very first round, you could see that Mayweather had no ring rust, and was too big, fast, and good for his opponent.
He landed blow after blow, although to his credit, Marquez stayed strong and never looked like he was on dream street. With Mayweather racking up the points, however, the judges decision was almost as emphatic as a knock-out.
Stats can often be misleading, but the ones from this fight show how dominant Mayweather was. 59 percent of his punches connected, while a mere 12 percent of Marquez's did.
Quite simply, Mayweather outclassed Marquez, and showed that he was still the man to beat in the boxing world.
Few things in world sport come close to the Olympic games, and the interest and reaction to the announcement of who would host the 2016 games showed just how big a deal it was.
The contenders consisted of countries from four different continents, but ultimately it was South America and Brazil who triumphed.
Chicago were the first city to be discounted, a surprise as they were touted as the favourites, a belief which was strengthened by Barack Obama's presence.
They were soon followed by Tokyo who, in the second round of voting, lost out to Madrid by just nine votes.
Rio's win over Madrid in the final round was fairly conclusive, as they received 66 votes to Madrid's 32.
The result sparked huge celebrations all over Brazil as it was revealed they would be the first South American country to hold the Olympics.
If the 2008 Formula One season ended in the most thrilling of ways, the 2009 one ended in the most unlikely of ways.
A matter of weeks before the season was due to start, Jenson Button didn't have a job. He had been a victim of Honda's withdrawal from the sport and it looked increasingly likely that he would play no part in the 2009 Formula One season.
That is before Ross Brawn led a management buyout of the team in February, and chose Button as one of his drivers. The Brit never looked back, winning six of the first seven races, a feat only achieved twice before, on his way to claiming his first World Drivers' Championship.
The Championship was secured in the penultimate race, along with a Constructors' Championship for Brawn in their debut season, ensuring no repeat of fellow countryman Lewis Hamilton's dramatic win the previous year.
Button's fairytale victory provided a nice ending to a tumultuous F1 season that included "crashgate," which has been since been labeled the worst scandal in the sport's history.
The 2009 World Series was contested between the most successful American baseball team of all time, the New York Yankees, and the defending World Series champions, the Philadelphia Phillies.
It was the first time the two had met in the World Series since 1950 and also the first time a World Series game was held at the Yankees' new stadium.
While the old stadium may have been steeped in history, the current Yankees crop set about making some history for the new ground.
They didn't get off to the best possible start, however, with the Phillies taking the first game, but the Yankees responded, winning the next three. The Phillies got one back in Game Five, but the Yankees secured the championship, their 27th overall and first since 2000, in Game Six at the Yankee Stadium.
The Kings of Baseball had regained their throne, but will they be able to keep hold of it?
Boxing is widely seen as a sport on the decline at the moment, but this heavyweight bout between Britain's David Haye and Russia's Nikolai Valuev still managed to create an enormous amount of interest.
"The Hayemaker" was gunning for Valuev's WBA Heavyweight title, but the odds were stacked against him. A simple tale of the tape reflected the enormity of Haye's task.
He was giving up seven inches in both height and reach and a massive seven stone in weight to the "Beast from the East."
No one doubted Haye's ability going into the fight, but the question on everyone's lips was "how can anyone stop Valuev?" He had never even been rocked before, and he seemed to shake off even the hardest of punches.
Yet Haye somehow pulled it out of the bag, winning by majority decision after sensationally almost knocking Valuev down in the final round to become the new WBA Heavyweight champion of the world.
He became only the third British heavyweight champion in the past 110 years, and now has his sights set on unifying the titles, which would mean fighting the Klitschko brothers.
With Mayweather's impressive return earlier in the year, all eyes were now on current pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquaio's fight with Miguel Cotto.
Having already comprehensively defeated Ricky Hatton in 2009, Pacquaio was looking to end the year in style, and he did just that.
The Filipino's speed was just too much for Cotto who, despite starting strongly, never looked good enough to seriously compete with the Pac-man.
A knockdown in the third round, and then again in the fourth seemed to sap the spirit out of Cotto, and Pacquaio dominated the rest of the fight. The stoppage finally came after 55 seconds of the final round with the referee stepping in to save Cotto from further damage.
The win made Pacquaio the first boxer to have ever won seven world titles in seven different weight divisions, an astounding achievement which surely cements his place among the very best boxers of all-time.
The prospect of a Pacquaio vs Mayweather superfight has stalled for now amidst arguments over drug testing, but if such a fight was to happen, it would surely be one of the biggest ever, and crown the true pound-for-pound king of boxing.
Here's to hoping it does!
Just four days after Pacquaio was making history by using his hands, France's Thierry Henry was doing the same.
In the second leg of a World Cup qualifier between Ireland and France, the scores were tied on aggregate as the game entered extra time. The winner of the match, be it via penalties or a late goal, would make it into the World Cup finals in 2010.
Ultimately, it was France who made it there, but the manner in which it happened caused a storm a controversy rarely seen in football before.
In the 104th minute, a ball into the Irish box was running out of play before Thierry Henry, a player of the highest quality, scooped it back in with his hand before playing it in to William Gallas to give France the winner.
The handball, as you can see from the picture, was as blatant as they come, but still the officials failed to spot it.
The incident, dubbed the "Hand of Frog", was said to have caused the Irish economy an estimated £1 billion, the most expensive handball in the history of football.
Henry was turned into a hate figure overnight as furious Ireland fans, and equally appalled football fans from all over the world condemned his actions.
Ireland appealed to FIFA for a rematch and, when that failed, for an extra spot in the World Cup. FIFA's response was the same.
The calls for video technology in football were brought up again, and the whole affair has left a bitter taste in the mouth's of millions of fans, players, and managers around the world, as well as raising conspiracy theories regarding FIFA's apparent preferential treatment of the "big" countries.
The year's biggest sports story was undoubtedly the "Tiger Woods Scandal."
On Nov. 27, reports surfaced that golf's golden boy Tiger Woods had been in a car crash, prompting many inevitable and foreseeable jokes about the use of drivers.
That was just the tip of the iceberg, however.
It was discovered that Woods' wife had broken his car's back window with, ironically, a driver, which caused speculation to run wild. He said his wife was merely trying to save him from the car, but the newspapers were publishing stories of his apparent infidelity.
These rumours were soon confirmed, and the biggest scandal of recent times was underway. It seemed that Tiger had become a "Cheetah."
Every day there seemed to be a new woman coming out and telling stories of her affair with Tiger Woods, for so long seen as a flawless sporting role model.
After a decade of establishing himself as arguably the greatest golfer ever, in a few short weeks Woods had become just as famous for his actions off the golf course.
He had crossed the line into infamy, and the likelihood of him ever returning looks increasingly slim.
Still, I believe Woods should be judged for what he does on the course, not off it. He has been one of the most dominant athletes of any era (although one wonders how he found any time to practice!), and that shouldn't be forgotten because of his "transgressions" off the golf course.
What a year it has been! Triumphs, losses, scandals, and celebrations have made 2009 a year to remember, and let's hope 2010 is even better!
With so many great moments to choose from, picking a top ten is always going to be hard, but after much deliberation I have finally chosen mine, and here it is:
10. Jensen Button Wins F1 Title
9. UEFA Champions League final
8. The British and Irish Lions Tour
7. England regain the Ashes
6. David Haye defeats Nikolai Valuev
5. Manny Pacquaio becomes a seven weight champion
4. Thierry Henry's handball
3. Roger Federer passes Pete Sampras' Grand Slam tally at Wimbledon
2. Usain Bolt in Berlin
1. The Tiger Woods scandal
Roll on 2010!