Wednesday Wisdom Everyone Loves An Underdog
Yet again, Leicester City have defied sporting odds by qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League last night. What's even more impressive is that the Foxes have made it through with a game to spare in Group G, allowing them the luxury to rest players for their final group match in Porto.
We love an underdog story here at Stag Weekends and we know that most of you do too! We thought we'd give you a reminder of some of the best underdog stories in the world of sport over the years.
Champions of England
Let's start with the most topical, shall we? Leicester City shook the world of football'perhaps the world in general'with their title winning campaign last season! After narrowly avoiding relegation the previous season, Leicester began the season as 5,000/1 outsiders to end the season as champions.
Claudio Ranieri's side became early pace setters and were top at Christmas having lost only one game up to then. Jamie Vardy had also broken the Premier League record of scoring in consecutive matches; the striker scored 11 games in a row!
Still, no-one really took Leicester as serious title contenders. Perhaps the pivotal moment was in February when they faced a trip to Manchester City and comfortably won 3-1. Leicester never looked back and won the Premier League title by a ten-point margin to complete one of the most incredible underdog stories of all-time.
Champions of Europe
If you are looking for an international football equivalent of Leicester's achievement, then you need to rewind to Euro 2004. Greece surprised everyone by winning the tournament; the country's only major trophy.
Portugal were hosts of the tournament and the Greeks were in the same group. The two nations played the opening game of the tournament, with Greece claiming an unlikely 2-1 victory. Despite that, no-one could have predicted Greece to go as far as they did; especially after they stumbled through the group in second place.
Otto Rehagel's side beat a star-studded France team 1-0 in the quarter-finals and then did the same to Czech Republic after extra-time in the semi-finals. In a strange twist of fate, it was the hosts Portugal who awaited Greece in the final'a repeat of the opening fixture.
Everyone thought Portugal would have learnt their lesson first time round and with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Simao, they would be too strong for Greece. That wasn't the case and a header from Angelos Charisteas gave Greece another 1-0 win and the unlikeliest European Championships win of all time!
Rated 66/1 outsiders before a ball was bowled at the 1996 World Cup, Sri Lanka were mainly amateurs: a small country ravaged by civil war, a team with no prior success, a board so poor that players were unpaid and having to sleep on sofas.
They didn't just win the tournament; they played with style and panache. The golden generation of Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga and Muttiah Muralitharan played cricket in the Sri Lankan style: with joy, quirkiness and daring.
Their game plan of attacking the bowlers from the outset changed the landscape in one-day cricket and allowed them to sweep aside England, India and Australia in successive matches on their way to winning. It was a win that transformed cricket in Sri Lanka and put their country on the map!
On the week of the 1991 USPGA Championship Nick Price withdrew to be at the birth of his first child. With the tournament being held at Crooked Stick, Indianapolis the first eight players on the standby list couldn't make it. The ninth reserve, John Daly, unknown to all at the time drove through the night to arrive on the day the tournament began.
Having never seen the course, let alone play a practice round, Daly would rely on Price's caddie Jeff'Squeaky' Medlin to advise him. With his powerful ball striking, Daly took the tournament by storm and belied pre-tournament odds of 1,000/1 to win the major. A golfing star had been born as Daly was the first rookie to win a major since 1976.
He's Only 17
Traditionally, as a warm-up for Wimbledon, players take part in the Queens Club tournament to get some grass court practice and 1985 was no different. However, eyebrows were raised when a 17-year-old German by the name of Boris Becker won the tournament. Three weeks later, Becker would shock everyone further by winning Wimbledon!
With Becker being so unknown and with him unseeded, most of his early round matches were played on the outside courts. The German needed five sets on two occasions to beat more experienced campaigners; Joakim Nystrom and Tim Mayotte.
The tournament had already seen shocks as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were swept aside by Becker's final opponent Kevin Curren. The big-serving South African was still strong favourite going into the final, but Becker produced some outstanding tennis to complete the most remarkable Wimbeldon win.