Updated: Dec 28, 2020
A year that was unlike any other in more than a lifetime, 2020, proved to be nothing shy of historic. The vast majority of sporting codes – as well as most facets of everyday life – was infiltrated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adversity, uncertainty, unpredictability … this past year had it all!
The first tennis major of the year took place down under as world no.1 Novak Djokovic lifted an 8th Australian Open crown, his 17th Grand Slam title. The Serb now sits just three behind Roger Federer's all-time record of 20.
American Sofia Kenin overcame Garbiñe Muguruza in the Ladies' Final.
26 days into the ‘Roaring 20s’ the world was struck with overpouring dejection following the passing of NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. The ‘Black Mamba’ was well-known for his 20-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers during which time he became a 5-time NBA Champion.
Bryant, aged 41, lost his life in a fatal helicopter crash, together with 13-year-old daughter Gianna.†
In February, boxing heavyweight Tyson Fury fought WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas. Fury won the bout via 7th-round TKO, which gave the Bronze Bomber his first-ever loss in 44 fights.
Premier League title favourites Liverpool tasted defeat, after 27 games unbeaten, in a shock 3-0 loss at Watford.
March, all in all, felt like the beginning of the end. Halfway through the month, all footballing activity was suspended following the outbreak of COVID-19.
It was announced that international tournaments i.e. Euro 2020 & Copa América would be rescheduled for 2021.
A week later it was also declared that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were to be postponed in response to the pandemic.
More of the same ensued in April, as the 134th Wimbledon Championships were called off by virtue of an insurance plan covering infectious disease; the All England Club received in excess of £110-million.
2020 was the first year post-WWII in which SW19 was not staged.
British racing driver Sir Stirling Moss passed away aged 90. Moss finished as Championship runner-up on 4 occasions and won 16 Grand Prix.†
European football associations responded varyingly as to how to bring an end to the existing league season. The Dutch Eredivisie was abandoned and declared null & void, while elsewhere, the French Ligue 1 was cancelled and Paris Saint-Germain were named champions for a 7th time in 8 years.
April, May and June were the quietest months of 2020, with most nations across the globe under government-imposed lockdown.
On May 16 the German Bundesliga restarted behind closed doors.
It was announced that several European football leagues would resume in June.
In July, Liverpool ended their 30-year wait to get their hands on a league title; Bayern Munich, Juventus & Real Madrid also celebrated domestic league success.
The amended F1 calendar got underway at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on 5 July.
Ex-England international and Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton passed away on 10 July after battling dementia.†
The UEFA Champions League resumed in August, following completion of the 2019/20 league season. Bayern lifted their 7th European title as they beat PSG in the Final in Lisbon, 1-0.
Sevilla won a record 6th Europa League after beating Inter Milan, 3-2, in Cologne.
Alexander Povetkin faced Dillian Whyte for the interim WBC heavyweight title at the Manchester Arena. Povetkin, 41, won by 5th-round TKO to give the Brixton-born 'Body Snatcher' only his 2nd loss in 29 fights.
In September, Dominic Thiem won a maiden Grand Slam at the US Open; the Austrian ousted Alex Zverev in a 5-set thriller in the Final at Flushing Meadows.
Naomi Osaka claimed her 3rd major championship in as many years, all before her 23rd birthday.
The 2020/21 football season kicked off in September, while European club competitions got underway in October.
In the first NBA season following Kobe Bryant's passing, the LA Lakers claimed a 1st title in 10 years and their 17th overall. LeBron James & Anthony Davis starred as the Lakers beat Eastern Conference champions Miami Heat, 4-2, in the best-of-seven Finals.
Rafael Nadal lifted his 13th Roland Garros – his 20th Slam title – to tie Federer's all-time record.
Iga Świątek, 19, became the youngest Ladies' champion in Paris since 1992, as well as only the 2nd unseeded winner at RG in the Open Era.
On November 10, the Mumbai Indians emerged victorious for a record 5th Indian Premier League success.
In late November the world lost one of its most celebrated figures in all football history, as Diego Maradona passed away aged 60.†
3 weeks later, ex-Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier died, aged 73.†
The F1 season came to an end in Abu Dhabi, as Mercedes asserted their dominance in the sport for a seventh year running. After winning a record-equalling 7th World Championship, Lewis Hamilton is set to become a Knight Bachelor over New Year’s.
Back in the boxing ring, heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua defended his IBF, IBO, WBA & WBO titles against Kubrat Pulev at Wembley, in front of 1,000 fans. This was AJ's first fight in 12 months since his rematch victory over Andy Ruiz Jr in Saudi Arabia.
AJ put on a disciplined performance and knocked the 39-year-old Bulgarian down twice in the 3rd Round. The Briton retained his belts by TKO towards the end of Round 9.
Cricket South Africa have been in a state of shambles for some years now. Ex-CEO Thabang Moroe and his former board of executives have been incriminated for corruption, nepotism, and maladministration, amongst other allegations.
The Fundudzi Forensic Report captured all of CSA’s treacherous activities between 2016-19, and it illustrates the true degree of poor governance and inept leadership within the organisation.
CSA's woes worsened at the crease, as the Proteas hosted England’s inbound tour for a one-day series in the Western Cape. The visitors emerged whitewash winners as SA-born England batsman Dawid Malan scored 173 runs, including an unbeaten 99* in the 3rd and final T20.
The two nations were also to take part in a 3-match ODI series however this was abandoned due to a chain of positive COVID-19 cases in the England camp.
Mark Boucher’s men currently host Sri Lanka for a 2-match test series; the visitors are led by former Proteas head coach Mickey Arthur.
For almost a decade, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi generally met at least twice per season in Spain, however, their most recent encounter was the first on-field meeting between the pair since the Portuguese star's move to Italy in 2018.
In what may be their last dance at club level, CR7 got the last laugh as Juve left Camp Nou 3-0 winners. Ronaldo, 35, converted two penalties whilst goalie Gigi Buffon, 42, made seven saves and kept a clean sheet for Andrea Pirlo’s Bianconeri.
Barça thus lost their record of 38 unbeaten home matches in the Champions League, which began in 2013.
Both Messi and Ronaldo lost out at the FIFA Best Awards, as Robert Lewandowski walked away with the coveted prize for Best Men’s Player.
Bayern teammate Manuel Neuer was voted Best Goalkeeper, while Tottenham's Son Heung-min won the Puskás Award.
Previously, Dortmund striker Erling Haaland won the Golden Boy award.
Despite Bayern losing just 1 out of 49 games in 2020 (and capturing 5 trophies in the process) head coach Hansi Flick was snubbed for the Best Men’s Coach, awarded to Liverpool's Jürgen Klopp.
RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann was nominated for the award albeit he did not make the final 3. Nagelsmann (born 1987) was the youngest nominee, and by some 32 years on fellow candidate, Leeds Utd boss Marcelo Bielsa.
The 33-year-old German had a mesmerising year in which Die Rotten Bullen reached the UCL semifinals, and finished 3rd in the Bundesliga.
At the opposite end of the spectrum to Nagelsmann are those who decided to call it a day, including former Man City skipper Vincent Kompany and FIFA World Cup winners Iker Casillas and Andre Schürrle, all of whom hung up their boots/gloves in 2020.
Retirement also called for ex-Everton players Leighton Baines & Steven Pienaar, in addition to female tennis players Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki.
Sharapova was a 5-time Grand Slam champion.
Meanwhile still going strong like fine wines, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Gigi Buffon are – respectively – in the middle of the 22nd & 26th seasons of their professional careers.
Ibrahimović, 39, was amongst high-profile athletes who tested COVID-19 positive and subsequently missed out on action. Others included Hamilton, Ronaldo, Mo Salah, Paul Pogba, and Lance Stroll.