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The 17 Most Heartbreaking Losses In British Sport

Ryan Sidle

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The 17 Most Heartbreaking Losses In British Sport

Two years ago today Mario Mandzukic and Croatia left a nation heartbroken as they knocked England out of the World Cup, but for British people the feeling wasn't a new one.

Of course the rest of Britain would have been celebrating in July 2018, especially as the English had just started dreaming of their chances of World Cup success, but the Scottish and Welsh have had their fair share of heartbreak too, and it's sometimes as a combined Britain.

We've put together a list of some of the most heartbreaking losses in British sport, these aren't likely to bring back too many good memories...

17. England vs Croatia, 2007, Euro 2008 qualifier - Famous for the 'Wally with a brolly. England's loss to Croatia was the first time since 1994 they'd failed to qualify for a tournament and a new experience for a generation.

16. Michael Schumacher crashes into Damon Hill, Australian Grand Prix 1994 - The final race of the 94 Formula One championship will forever be remembered. As Hill attempted to pass the German, who had run wide, Schumacher crashed into the side of the Brit. Both men retired from the race and the Benetton driver was world champion for the first time, by one point.

15. Tim Henman vs Goran Ivanisevic, Wimbledon semi-final 2001 - Henman reached the 98 and 99 Wimbledon semis both against Pete Sampras. Finally he made the final four with the American long knocked out. The Brit went 2-1 up in sets, winning the third 6-0, when the rain came. The delays took away the momentum and the Croatian qualifier, having lost three previous Wimbledon finals, went on to win the title.

Henman walks off for the rain delay that changed the match. Image: PA Images
Henman walks off for the rain delay that changed the match. Image: PA Images

14. Colin Montgomerie, 2006 US Open - 'Monty' was considered for a long time the greatest golfer to never win a major. He finished his career with five second placed finishes but came closest at Winged Foot, New York. The Scotsman shared the lead going up the 18th and looked certain for a play-off at worst. He ended up three putting for a double bogey and finishing one shot behind winner Geoff Ogilvy.

13. England vs New Zealand, 2013 Rugby league World Cup semi-final - Against all the odds England led the defending world champions at Wembley 18-14 with just seconds to go. It had been a brilliant performance from them but Shaun Johnson skipped through two players to score a try and then added the conversion to leave England gutted.

12. Frank Bruno vs Mike Tyson, 1989 - Iron Mike 35-0 when he faced Bruno. The American world champion had just beaten the previously unbeaten Michael Spinks in the first round and had never been rocked. Bruno managed to rock the champion in the opening round but he couldn't keep up the pressure and by the fifth it was all over.


11. Elise Christie, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics - Christie, one of the best short tracked speed skaters in the world was disqualified from the 500m, 1000m and 1500m at the 2014 games. She came back four years later as a three time world champion with even higher hopes. She crashed during the 500m final, and again in the 1500m semi, with an injury putting her participation in the 1000m in doubt. She managed to qualify for the quarters but was carried off the track in pain before she was disqualified again.

10. Scotland vs Australia, 2015 Rugby union World Cup quarter-final- Heartbreak and anger for the Scots. They had the southern hemisphere side all but beat at 34-32, after Mark Bennett's try with seven minutes left. Referee Craig Joubert gave an incorrect penalty to Australia with second left. Bernard Foley kicked it for three points and the win. Joubert didn't shake anyone's hand and instead ran off the pitch.

Scotland's Stuart Hogg dejected after a referee error ends their World Cup. Image: PA Images
Scotland's Stuart Hogg dejected after a referee error ends their World Cup. Image: PA Images

9. England vs Japan, 2015 Women's World Cup semi-final - England finished level on points with France in the group before beating Norway and hosts Canada to give them a chance to qualify for the country's first Women's World Cup final. Japan took a first half lead but the Lionesses were level before half-time. As extra time loomed Laura Bassett scored an incredibly unfortunate own goal in the 92nd minute.

8. Paula Radcliffe, 2004, 2008, 2012 Olympics - One of the greatest female marathon runners of all time, Radcliffe's world record stood for 12 years but she failed in three Olympics. An injury in 2004 caused her to give up mid race and she was distraught. She suffered more injuries at two more Games and it never happened for her.

7. Wales vs Russia, 2003, Euro 2004 qualifier - Wales hadn't qualified for an international tournament in nearly 50 years. Mark Hughes side beat Italy in the group on the way to a play-off with Russia. They came away from the first leg in Russia with a 0-0 draw and hopes were high for a win at the Millenium Stadium but Vadim Evseev scored his only ever international goal to end Welsh hopes. They would wait another 12 years for tournament football.

6. England vs Germany, Euro 1996 semi-final - There's been plenty of penalty heartbreak over the years for England but at home in a semi-final against old rivals after actually winning a shoot-out in the previous round was one of the worst. If Gazza had only been a tad taller he'd only be on this list once...

5. Ricky Hatton vs Manny Pacquiao, 2009 - Hatton had been handed his only loss by Floyd Mayweather in 2007 but he at least took the fight to the American in the early rounds and it needed his corner to throw in the towel. Facing Pacquiao was different though and the Mancunian was well beaten and battered and the brutal shot in the second round that ended it left Hatton lying dead centre of the ring. The loss to Vyacheslav Senchenko nearly three years later was also heartbreaking in its own way.

4. England vs West Indies, 2016 T20 World Cup final - England battled back from 23/3 and 111/7 to leave West Indies chasing 156 in India. Joe Root of all people took the first two wickets as the Windies were reduced to 11/3. They battled back to require 45 off the final four overs but then needed 19 off the final Ben Stokes over. Carlos Brathwaite hit the the all rounder for four sixes off the first four balls to give the match an incredible ending. Fortunately for Stokes he would have his say in a less heartbreaking World Cup final.

3. England vs Germany, World Cup 1990 semi-final - Gazza's tears as he realised he wouldn't be making the World Cup final if England beat Germany were heartbreaking enough but worse was to come. A new experience for the whole nation as the Three Lions lost their first shoot-out. Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle's misses made the tears all for nothing, which was tough itself.

2. England vs Croatia, World Cup 2018 semi-final - It took 28 years for England to reach another World Cup semi-final and the summer of 2018 had turned a nation brow beaten by hope fueled failure into one that had started enjoying international football again. The weather was great, the team were winning and Kieran Trippier put Gareth Southgate's men within sight of the final with a brilliant free kick. Ivan Perisic's equaliser took it to extra time and Mario Mandzukic shattered our hearts into a million pieces in extra time. (Not the Scots and Welsh admittedly.)

1. Andy Murray vs Roger Federer, Wimbledon final, 2012 - Murray became the first man since 1938 to reach the Wimbledon singles final. He'd reached three Grand Slam finals before without winning a set and here he faced the greatest ever on the court he'd made his own, winning six Wimbledon titles already. Murray took the first set but the Swiss rattled off the next three, to make it Slam number 17. The Scot broke down in tears during his on court speech saying, "I'm going to try this - it isn't going to be easy." A nation fell in love with him that day. It took Murray just four weeks to get over his heartbreak though, beating Federer on the same Centre Court in the Olympic final. He won his first Slam at the US Open later that summer and returned to win Wimbledon a year later, the perfect cure for a broken heart.

Which moments did we miss out? Let us know in the comments.

Topics: Football News, Boxing News, Tennis news, Croatia, roger federer, Andy Murray, England, Athletics, World Cup

Ryan Sidle
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