Lionel Messi and topless England star headline top 6 sporting moments

FIFA World Cup 2022 Final: Argentina V France In Pictures

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Lionel Messi lifting the World Cup

Park the weird-looking robe and some of the dubious Argentina henchmen flanking him, it was an image for the ages – the perfect sign-off to Messi’s World Cup career. At the fifth time of asking, the trophy finally coming to Messi rounded off a fabulous football tournament and it was all down to the little master.

Seven goals, three assists and a couple of nerveless shootout penalties made him a worthy player of the tournament. He was such a joy to watch in Qatar – a little slower maybe at 35 but with a Mensa football brain

Never mind the goals, some of the passes he picked were sublime. The long-range ball to Julian Alvarez at the end of normal time in the final, hatched facing his own penalty area, was just glorious.

A sporting genius plain and simple. We are lucky to have enjoyed him.

Chloe Kelly’s ecstasy

England shirt whirling around her head, sports bra out there for all the world to see – what an unforgettable way to bring football home.

Kelly’s winning goal in the Euros final may have been mongrel scruffy but context is everything and to see off Germany in extra time, however it was done, was a gloriously fulfilling outcome.

The roar of the Lionesses was heard loud and long across the country after a girls’ own adventure which brought women’s football into the mainstream.

A Wembley sellout for the final provided the perfect backdrop for the dream ending and after a titanic tussle against Europe’s dominant force, came Kelly’s decisive moment. The women’s game in this country will never be the same again.

Joe Root’s reverse ramp

If one shot encapsulated the England cricket revolution shaped by Brendon McCullum it was the sight of the side’s textbook Test batter reverse-scooping Tim Southee for six at Trent Bridge.

Root guided the second ball he faced against the world Test champions on day four over the slips and the boundary rope to encapsulate the side’s new way of thinking.

This was Test cricket but not as we know it.

Root went on to make 176, setting up an incredible England second innings run chase which left New Zealand scratching their heads in disbelief at having lost despite posting a first innings total of 553.

The high water mark of England’s fearless new approach came later in the year in Rawalpindi with the 500 barrier broken on the first day on the way to an historic series whitewash in Pakistan.

Bazball is bonkers but it works.

Eilish keeping it in the family

The Commonwealth Games promised little but massively overdelivered as a feelgood summer event which had the country harking back to the London Olympics.

Birmingham was a fuzzy warm glow and nothing felt fuzzier than Eilish McColgan’s emotional 10,000m triumph in front of her mum Liz.

Following in the footsteps of greatness is not easy and the Scot had endured her fair share of disappointments attempting to do so in her own career. She had knocked plenty of times but the door would not open.

But then, at 31, her first major title finally arrived courtesy of the move on Kenya’s Irene Cheptai over a closing 200 metres which blew the roof off the Alexander Stadium.

The kiss of approval afterwards from her mum, who had won Commonwealth gold in 1986 and 1990, meant everything.

Matt Fitzpatrick’s Brookline bunker brilliance

Fitzpatrick’s miracle shot that landed one of golf’s greatest prizes – the US Open – was a show-stopper. If it had been Tiger Woods playing the shot of the year, it would have been an auto-repeat forever.

Marooned in a fairway bunker on the final hole with his first Major on the line and only a one-stroke cushion, the Yorkshireman went for broke and delivered the nine-iron of his life.

Over the steep lip it flew, beyond the green-side bunker before settling, with a shuttlecock landing, 18 feet away from the flag. The two-putt par closed out the championship.

In a year when most of golf’s headlines came off the course courtesy of the LIV civil war, it was a moment of pure golf class from Fitzpatrick.

Bobby Johnson’s volley

Great moments tend to come on great stages but they don’t have to.

Sometimes you pay your £14 for a midweek National League North relegation tussle in a spit-and-sawdust stadium where the toilet walls have been kicked in by vandals and the magic just happens anyway.

Johnson’s strike for Farsley Celtic against Kettering Town in October was the sort of edge-of-the-penalty-box volley that would not have looked out of place in the Champions League.

Maybe a couple of pre-match pints had something to do with it but, illuminated by The Citadel’s modest floodlights, it seemed to happen in slow-motion.

The lazy swing of the right leg, the perfect connection, the regal arc of the ball on its path into the top corner….

It was a treat for the crowd. All 375 of us.

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