Leading sports deaths of the year...
SPORTS: PARIS, Dec 24 (AFP) - Leading sportspeople
who died this year:
Automobile racing Dan Wheldon
Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion killed as a result of injuries
suffered in a crash in the Indy 300 race at Las Vegas on October 16 aged
33. Born in England Wheldon moved to the United States in 1999 and six
years later became the first Englishman since Graham Hill in 1966 to win
the Indianapolis 500 and went on to win it again this year. In the Vegas
race he was racing from the back of the field in pursuit of a $5 million
prize offered by IndyCar to a non-series driver who could win the
Boxing Sir Henry Cooper
Much-loved British heavyweight champion who died two days before his
77th birthday on May 1. Best known for his 1963 non-title bout with
Muhammad Ali when he landed 'Enry's Hammer' felling his opponent. Some
gamesmanship by Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee probably saved his young
star from defeat. Cooper retired in 1971 and went on to do an enormous
amount for charity as well as a kitsch series of adverts alongside Kevin
Keegan for an aftershave.
World heavyweight champion known as 'Smokin Joe' died of liver cancer
aged 67 on November 8. The former farmworker from South Carolina fought
a legendary triology of title fights with Muhammad Ali in the 1970's -
Frazier won the first but lost the next two, Ali describing the final
bout 'The Thrilla in Manila' as "the closest thing to dying that I know
of". Outside the ring the two never made up as Frazier felt slighted by
Ali's taunts of 'Uncle Tom and gorilla'. Eventually Frazier did forgive
his old rival in 2009 and a frail Ali turned up for his funeral.
Cricket Mansur Ali Khan 'Tiger' Pataudi
Former Indian cricket captain died aged 70 of lung disease on
September 22. The Nawab of Pataudi nicknamed 'Tiger' because of his
excellent catching and throwing in the outfield. He played most of his
career without his right eye, which he lost in a car accident in England
shortly before he became the first Indian to captain Oxford University.
Pataudi became India's captain at the age of 21 and led them in 40 of
his 46 Tests - retiring from test cricket in 1976 - winning nine and
securing the country's first series win abroad on the 1967/68 tour of
Controversial former Somerset county captain who found a more
successful career as an outstanding cricket correspondent allegedly
committed suicide aged 55 on November 12. Was apparently about to be
detained by Cape Town police - he was covering the South Africa
Australia test series - over an alleged sexual assault on a Zimbabwean
man when he threw himself from his hotel room window. His period as
Somerset captain was overshadowed by his decision to break up a
successful side by not having the contracts of West Indies greats Viv
Richards and Joel Garner not renewed prompting Ian Botham to move to
Football Florian Albert
Hungary's only ever ever footballer to be awarded the 'Ballon d'Or'
prize as the European Footballer of the Year died on October 31 aged 70
following heart bypass surgery. Outstanding striker who won the Ballon
d'Or in 1967 beating Manchester United and England star Bobby Charlton
into second place by 68 votes to 40. Albert scored 31 international
goals between 1959 and 1974 and 255 goals in 351 league matches for his
sole club Ferencvaros.
English international striker known as the 'Lion of Vienna' died aged
85 on January 15. Earned his nickname for his performance in England's
3-2 win over Austria in 1952 and ended his international career with 30
goals in 33 appearances. He was voted Bolton's greatest ever player four
years ago as he made more than 450 appearances for the Trotters, scoring
285 goals for the club between 1946 and 1960.
Brazilian football icon died on December 4 aged 57 of an intestinal
infection. Captained the great 1982 Brazilian side which was
widely-regarded as the finest team never to win a World Cup and also
played in 1986 edition but was not fully fit and missed a penalty in the
quarter-final defeat by France. Rare among Brazilian football stars in
coming from a middle class background and qualified as a doctor. Was a
self-confirmed bon viveur and he later admitted his failing health was
linked to his love of alcohol.
Wales manager and former graceful midfielder committed suicide on
November 27 aged 42. His death left many stunned as he had been in the
best of form when he appeared on the BBC on the day before his death.
Enjoyed a distinguished playing career and was a member of the Leeds
side that won the last First Division Championship in 1992. Played 85
times for Wales and also captained them 44 times. Took over coaching the
national side last year and was credited with reviving their fortunes
recently leading them to three successive wins for the first time since
Golf Severiano Ballesteros
Charismatic Spanish golfer 'Seve' died on May 7 aged 54 after years
of ill health following a brain tumour operation. Led the surge in
European golfers challenging the supremacy of the Americans and won five
majors with his play littered by audacious strokes from impossible lies.
Name forever associated with Europe turning the tables on previously
unbeatable Americans in Ryder Cup. Despite retiring in 2007 and his
subsequent health problems his influence never waned and his phone call
last year roused the European team and they went onto edge the Americans
in Wales to regain the Ryder Cup.
Motorcycling Marco Simoncelli
Fast rising daredevil MotoGp rider died as a result of injuries
suffered in a crash in the Malaysian MotoGp on October 23 aged 24.
Ironically it was at the same Sepang track the mop-haired Italian rider
had enjoyed his sweetest moment finishing third in the 2008 250cc race
to take the world title. His devil may care tactics did get him into
trouble such as when he was involved in a controversial crash with Dani
Pedrosa at the French GP in May which left Pedrosa requiring surgery on
a shoulder fracture. He achieved his best result in MotoGP with a second
place to world champion Casey Stoner in Australia the week before his
Rugby Union Albert Ferrasse
First French president of the International Rugby Board (IRB) and
former president of the French rugby federation (FFR), died on July 28
aged 93. He may have been a run of the mill player but he was a tough as
teak administrator as president of the FFR from 1968-91 and the IRB from
1979-87 and played a huge role in getting the World Cup up and running,
presenting the trophy at the inaugural final in Auckland in 1987.
Two-time Soviet Union Olympic super heavyweight champion died of
heart disease aged 69 on November 25 in a clinic in Munich, where he had
won the first of his two Olympic titles. While gold also followed in
Montreal sadly he was unable to make it a threepeat in his 'home'
Olympics the Moscow edition in 1980. One of the true greats of a sport
usually tainted by doping he also won eight world crowns and set 80