As 2018 comes to a close, we asked Adrian Durham to pick his top five sporting moments of the year. Here’s his highlights…
5) TIGER ROARS BACK!
Less than a year after being ranked 1,199th in the world, overcoming spinal fusion surgery, coming back from a meltdown in his personal life, and 16 months after being arrested for driving under the influence and being found to have a cocktail of drugs in his system, Tiger Woods made us all a bit emotional when he won the Tour Championship in September 2018.
4) FURY : THE RESURRECTION
It’s round 12 in Las Vegas and Tyson Fury has the fight in the bag surely. Yes, he’s been on the canvas, but he’s done enough to win if he sees it through. And then Deontay Wilder strikes. Fury flattened by the American’s left hand. Fury looks beaten. Wilder celebrates. And then Wilder’s face drops, the smile straightens out. Fury, like Lazarus and Jesus on Easter Monday rolled into one, gets back to his feet. Inexplicable judging robs him of his win. The best boxing moment of 2018, the best heavyweight fight, the best fight in any weight division, and by far the best boxing performance from an individual. That’s what Fury gave us. And Anthony Joshua was watching it on his sofa. 2019 is time for AJ to show everyone he’s the best. If he really is. But, seriously, how did Fury get up from THAT punch?
3) NACER CHADLI – FOOTBALL HERO
The round of 16 in Rostov. Japan go 2-0 up and are playing magnificent football. Belgium look beaten. And then Marouane Fellaini comes on. Headers from him and Jan Vertonghen level it at 2-2, and in the dying moments Japan have a corner, Thibaut Courtois collects comfortably, rolls it out to Kevin De Bruyne, who finds Thomas Meunier on the right. Japan are scrambling back, but Belgium counter rapidly. Meunier delivers low into the box, Romelu Lukaku passes up the chance to be the hero with the most intelligent, genius and brave dummy you’ll ever see, and Nacer Chadli scores with 13 seconds left of injury time. I was in the stadium and out of my seat.
2) SPAIN 3-3 RONALDO
The first game of my talkSPORT World Cup and it set the tone. Sochi was beautiful, the stadium spectacular, and it became the game I wanted to marry. I was transfixed by the skills of Isco throughout the game, Diego Costa was magnificent, but Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines. A penalty he won opened the scoring on three minutes, Costa’s individual brilliance made it 1-1. On half time Ronaldo’s shot from the edge of the box squirms out of David de Gea’s grasp, 2-1. Second half and David Silva’s free kick is headed back across for Costa to tap in. Just before the hour, Nacho strikes the ball on the edge of the box and it flies in to give Spain the lead for the first time. A brilliant goal. But with two minutes left, Ronaldo takes his usual stance for a free kick. We look at each other in the press box, surely not? He strikes it with that customary venom and dip, it flies past the wobbling head of Sergio Busquets in the wall and leaves De Gea rooted to the middle of the goal as the net bulges. Genius. 3-3. “If I could marry a football match…”
1) “WE’VE WON A F****** SHOOT OUT!”
Having been in Rostov for the Belgium victory in the round of 16, we had a race against time to make it back to Moscow for the England tie with Colombia. With an hour to spare we arrived at the Spartak Stadium. Colombia’s dirty tricks, scuffing up the spot before Harry Kane’s brilliant penalty, all the shirt tugging and cheating and nonsense, none of it mattered in the end. The fact England fans were massively outnumbered in the stadium didn’t matter. All that mattered was that England won a penalty shoot out at a World Cup for the first time ever. I feel blessed to have been there to witness it first hand.
Carlos Sanchez tried to ride Kane like a horse at a set piece, penalty and yellow card, 1-0. Jordan Pickford made a wonder save from Mateus Uribe’s long range strike at the end of the game before they equalised from the resulting corner and I felt deflated. Extra time came and went, Danny Rose of all people coming the closest as he flashed on across goal. So to penalties and I couldn’t feel positive. How could any England fan feel genuinely confident? “I know how this story goes,” I kept saying to my annoyingly positive producer Emma. Carlos Bacca took his penalty, Pickford sprung up a strong hand to beat it out. Advantage England. Eric Dier, this is your chance to be a hero. He duly obliged. David Ospina got gloriously close but couldn’t keep it out.
Dier turned to celebrate to see all his team-mates racing to bundle Pickford. I was jumping up and down on the spot shouting “We’ve won a f****** shoot out!” over and over. Gareth Southgate celebrated long after the final whistle with the England fans, and that Atomic Kitten classic was belted out full blast. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. Where’s my waistcoat? “Southgate you’re the one…”