Greatest Sporting Comebacks of all Time Comebacks are what sport's about. The euphoria of a team rising from the ashes to clinch victory is unmatcheable. It re-writes history, the crowd goes berserk and we’ve got the 10 best of all time.


boxingIn September 1952, Joe Walcott, the Heavyweight Champion of the World, went into the 13th round against Rocky Marciano as the clear favourite. His extraordinary reach had swept him ahead of Rocky on all the judges’ score cards and he hadn’t been rattled for the entire bout. On the other side of the ring, however, is Rocky. Despite sitting in the last chance saloon, when the final round begins he doesn’t run after Joe throwing haymakers. Instead, he waits for the perfect moment to release his anvil of a right hook, laying a stunned Walcott to the floor. Rocky remained undefeated for his entire career: 49 V 0. 


hockeyIn 1982 the Edmonton Oilers faced the L.A Kings, and with ‘The Great One’ in their side (Wayne Gretzky) the Oilers had taken a five goal lead heading into the final period. The game was all but in the ‘win’ column but The Kings had other plans. Sparked by a consolation goal, the home crowd got behind their team, pushing them to score five more times without reply to cap what is now known as the ‘Miracle on Manchester’.


grid-ironIn the 1993 NFL wildcard game, the first playoff game of the year, The Houston Oilers lead the Buffalo Bills by 35 points to 3 halfway through the third quarter.  On the field for The Bills was reserve quarterback Frank Reich, and by this point, thousands of fans were streaming out the stadium. How wrong they were. The Bills embarked on an extraordinary comeback, and hearing the developing news on the radio, the absent fans desperately tried to turn their cars around to get back into the stadium. The scores finished Houston Oilers 38 v 41 Buffalo Bills in over time.


footy2AC Milan, the reigning Italian champions, raced out of the blocks in the 2005 Champions League final V Liverpool, establishing a comfortable 3-0 lead by half time. Liverpool were in the midst of a dismal domestic season – they would finish fifth in the Premier League – and their fans deserted the stadium in droves. One supporter even committed suicide during the break. Liverpool pulled one back shortly after the break through Steven Gerrard, while further goals from Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso – as well as an extraordinary save from Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek - saw them to penalties where they won the biggest club game in the world.  From nowhere.


rugbyThe 1999 World Cup match between New Zealand V France is considered the greatest rugby match of all time. New Zealand, firm tournament favourites, had cruised to a 24-10 lead at half time and looked like they’d make easy work of the French in the second half. The All Blacks wilted under the pressure, eventually falling 43–31 to the French resistance.


baseballIt’s game seven of the World Series - the final match in the baseball season - and it’s bottom of the ninth, the last inning of the game, when Joe Carter comes into bat. The tying run’s on second base and the world champion run is on first base with two out and two strikes. Philadelphia only need to throw one more strike to win, while the Blue Jays basically need a home run to taste glory. With one ball left Joe Carter smacks the ball into the stands, one of only two times in history that a World Series has ended on a home run. 


golfIt’s the 1960 US Open and Arnold Palmer is sitting in 15th place after the third round, seven strokes off the lead. Spurred on by clubhouse talk that "The King" was too far back to catch the leaders, he shoots a 65 for a total of 280 to claim the title. Palmer's seven-shot comeback is still the largest ever in U.S. Open history.


basketballIn 2004 The Houston Rockets were 10 points down to the San Antonio Spurs with just under a minute to play. Tracy McGrady then turns up the heat, scoring a staggering 13 points in 33 seconds including a four point play. The crowd goes wild.


tennisAccording to his autobiography, Serious, John McEnroe says he still thinks about his 1984 French Open final defeat to Ivan Lendl every day. And with good reason. McEnroe was aiming to join only a handful of players to win a career Grand Slam (all four majors) and was playing the best tennis of his life. Unsurprisingly, when he went two sets up, the only person in the stadium who didn’t expect him to be crowned French champion was Lendl. The scores finished 3–6 2–6 6–4 7–5 7–5 and McEnroe never got a better chance of winning the title.


cricketIn 2006 Australia posted a world record score of 434 in the 5th One Day International against South Africa in Johannesburg. No team had passed 400 runs in a 50 over game before and an Australian man bet nearly USD50,000 that his team would see it out. South Africa, however, had different ideas. Propelled by Herschelle Gibbs, who scored an astonishing 175 off 111 balls, South Africa reached 438 runs with a ball to spare. The South Africans set a new world record in a game that had already seen the world record broken once. It’s widely regarded as the best one dayer of all time.



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