Image Credits: Reuters/Toby Melville
When you think back to 2018 only two things come to mind – a scorching hot summer heatwave and England reaching the World Cup semi-final. Ahead of this, the expectations of England fans could not have been lower as the famous Three Lions lyrics highlight England’s stereotypical disappointment: ‘That England’s gonna throw it away, Gonna blow it away’. Nonetheless, the beer gardens were packed and the young squad succeeded in renewing hope and making the whole nation proudly believe – albeit short-lived – that football was truly coming home! Some highlights of our modern, optimistic style of football included Harry Kane’s sniper shots, Jordan Pickford’s energetic and vibrant saves and the protection of our beloved ‘slab-head’ Harry Maguire. Oh how I wish we could go back to that wonderful time!
2018, also, saw one of England’s top-class sportsmen, and arguably our most extraordinary opener, Alistair Cook announce his retirement. Before playing his 161st and final Test match, Cook’s final words emphasised his humble leadership: “I have loved cricket my whole life from playing in the garden as a child and will never underestimate how special it is to pull on an England shirt. So I know it is the right time to give the next generation of young cricketers their turn to entertain us and feel the immense pride that comes with representing your country.” Cook’s legacy ended on a high as after completing his century he managed to reach the three-figure mark in both his debut game and farewell match. A fitting finish to a stunning career leaving the nation wanting more and mourning his departure.
In May Arsène Wenger, who many mistake as Arsenal F.C.’s namesake, was another phenomenal legend to leave the scene, stepping down after 22 illustrious years in charge. Wenger’s highlights include the 2003-4 Invincibles season, winning three Premier League titles and a record seven FA Cups. Fellow legend Alex Ferguson praised him as “He is, without doubt, one of the greatest Premier League managers and I am proud to have been a rival, a colleague and a friend to such a great man. It is great testament to his talent, professionalism and determination that has been able to dedicate his life to a job that he loves.” Wenger’s impact was so powerful that Arsenal are still, in 2019, picking up the pieces from when he left and took a piece of them away with him.
Alongside England’s glory in Russia, an increase in UK sport funding catapulted Britain to its record best at the Winter Olympics in South Korea with Lizzy Yarnold’s second gold being one of five medals in total. Back in the winning seat of the Premier League Manchester City set their own top-flight record of 100 goals, with at least 3 goals in every game– a level of excellence never before been seen on the English green. While some legends left the scene, Tiger Woods made a fierce comeback by celebrating his first PGA Tour title win in five years. Lewis Hamilton joint the success party by securing his fifth Formula 1 title, putting him joint second in all-time standings.
Overall, 2018 was a mighty and monumental year for Britain in all sports and a ray of positivity for the future of our next sporting generation.