The Rundown

Fallen icons, unbreakable records and bad hair days: Top 20 sporting lists of the year

The year in sporting achievement always throws up some incredible tales - but quite often it's the stories behind the headlines that catch our imaginations.

In 2013, that's meant everything from musing on success, failure, violence, enlightenment, bad hair and good underwear.

Here's our pick of the year.

- - -

Top 10 sports stars who stripped down to their undies

Caroline Wozniacki and Cristiano Ronaldo both got their kit off to plug new underwear ranges in 2013 - but they are far from the first sports stars to do so. Purely in the interests of research, we took a look at the top 10 stars who have lost a few clothes in order to gain a few pounds. Not to mention dollars, yen, and euros.

- - -

15 things worse than biting your opponent

Luis Suarez's bite on Branislav Ivanovic made him one of the undisputed villains of the year - but our Rundown blog pointed out that there are worse crimes, from the disgusting... the bizarre:

- - -

Triumph and Disaster: The highs and lows of David Beckham's amazing career

English football waved goodbye to a true modern legend in the summer as David Beckham played his last game. This inspired two blogs: one lauding the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star for his achievements...

...and another recalling the moments when Goldenballs saw his halo slip.

Beckham misses his penalty against Turkey

- - -

Seven football hard men who played through horrific injuries

When Vincent Kompany played an hour for Belgium with fractured eye socket and a broken nose, we looked back through the archives and discovered everything from smashed jaws to broken necks which failed to stop players representing the teams that they loved.

Sadly the same can't be said of the players featured in another of our blogs, most of whom ended up getting carted off the field after falling victims to the most gruesome challenges of all time.

- - -

From glory to the gutter: Sport's fallen icons

Baseball is a tough sell outside the US, Japan and Puerto Rico - so when a player is a household name across the world, you know he's really cracked it.

And that was the lofty status enjoyed by Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees until he was banned for using performance-enhancing drugs in 2013. His plight inspired our retrospective on other other genuine global megastars who fell from grace, from Mike Tyson... Tiger Woods, via the likes of Lance Armstrong, OJ Simpson and Oscar Pistorius.

- - -

Sport's 15 funniest excuses

When Anton Ferdinand managed to escape a possible jail term by blaming an offence on his mum, we looked back at sports stars' most unbelievable excuses, from the cricket superstar who claimed he was only rescuing a kitten... the frogs who ruined the hopes of a nation at the 2006 World Cup.

- - -

The unluckiest stars in the history of sport

All the stars mentioned above were incredibly lucky to get away with lame excuses; but luck utterly deserted Portuguese giants Benfica at the end of the season, as a likely-looking treble just before the end of the season evaporated before their eyes into a trophy-free year.

That instantly put them in among our list of the unluckiest people in sport - alongside the likes of Chesterfield, Greg Norman, and the Irish football team.

- - -

Max Hofmann, Lionel Messi and the other worst sporting debuts in history

The Austrian Bundesliga doesn't often generate headlines around the world, but an up-and-coming star by the name of Max Hofmann changed all that in August.

Hofmann gave away a penalty and earned a red card just 90 seconds into his league debut for Rapid Vienna - but at least he can console himself with the fact his appalling debut puts him in good company with the likes of Tiger Woods, Sol Campbell and Lionel Messi...

- - -

Not with a bang, but a whimper: The sports stars who ended their careers on a low

While the likes of Messi and Hofmann, above, started their careers in ignominious circumstances, it's perhaps even worse to finish on a low note. Brian O'Driscoll's disappointing end to a glittering rugby career put him on our list alongside Zindine Zidane...

...and Gary Lineker - with Linford Christie and Don Bradman also earning this unwanted accolade.

- - -

Really?! Bendtner joins list of sport’s most delusional stars

Years of mediocrity at Arsenal have failed to dim Nicklas Bendtner's enthusiasm for the skills of Nicklas Bendtner - and his hilarious insistence that his next move will see him become the star striker for either Real Madrid or Barcelona reminded us of all sorts of other big-talking idiots from the world of sport.

Our particular favourites included Ian Poulter: "The trouble is I don't rate anyone else. Don't get me wrong, I respect everyone who is a professional. But the problem is I haven't played to my full potential yet. And when that happens it will just be me and Tiger..."

...and Sam Allardyce, whose self-regard can only be described as Bendtneresque: "I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Internazionale or Real Madrid. It wouldn't be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time." Ashley Cole and Lewis Hamilton weren't far behind, though.

- - -

Mourinho thinks he looks cool… but so did these clowns

Jose Mourinho gave himself a haircut in November...

...which prompted us to take a look at some of the best and worst haircuts in the history of football, among which we found the likes of Jason Lee...

...and Giovanni Simeone. And plenty more besides.

- - -

Here's a load of stuff that looks like David Luiz's hair

Chelsea star David Luiz didn't make the shortlist for the list above - but he did inspire an entire blog all of his own thanks to this picture becoming an internet sensation:

- - -

Size matters: Eight physical mis-matches in sport

While we've got you in hilarious pictures mode, a 7'5", 25 stone basketball prodigy prompted our look at some of the funniest physical mismatches ever seen in sport.

- - -

England v Germany: Five classic matches

Roy Hodgson's men took on Germany in a friendly following the final World Cup qualifiers, which gave us a chance to look back on triumph...

...and disaster...

...and more disaster...

...and yet more disaster. You get the idea.

- - -

10 of the best Zlatanisms

Zlatan Ibrahimovic might have been snubbed by FIFA and France Football for one of the final three spots on the Ballon d'Or shortlist, but the Swede's utterly magnificent displays in 2013 reaffirmed his place in our eyes as one of the true greats. And that's as much for his utterly bonkers take on life as much as it is for his outrageous goalscoring talent.

- - -

The sporting records that will surely never been beaten

Unstoppable jockey AP McCoy clocked up his 4,000th winner this year, and in so doing gave us reason to look back in the record books at the sporting achievements which we think will endure until the end of time.

The records ranged from Ed Moses's 10-year streak of winning 400m hurdles races, Byron Nelson winning 11 consecutive tournaments on golf's US PGA Tour and Florence Griffith-Joyner's possibly drug-assisted women's 100m world record. But surely none of those records is as safe as Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points in an NBA game back in 1962 - a feat he performed despite being hungover from a big night out.

- - -

Roy Keane's 10 angriest moments

The appointment of the former Manchester United great as assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland's national football side got us thinking about all the times when it seemed that Keane would end up behind bars rather than working one of the best jobs in football.

From the advice to a former manager to "stick it up your b*******" to his fearful retribution on an opponent who once accused him of faking injury, the hits - in every sense - just keep on coming.

- - -

Nine of sport's fiercest feuds

Keane also made an appearance in our look at the fiercest rivalries in sport, which was prompted by a deeply unpleasant spat between Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia that contained unpleasant racist overtones. But even that was fairly tame compared to the nastiness that passed between Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, or Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

- - -

10 Sports stars who defied nationality rows

Jack Wilshere generated acres of newsprint when he kicked off the debate about footballers' nationalities in October - but he was far from the first person to raise fears about who is able to play for which team or represent what country. It's a debate that has raged for decades, from the days when Alfredo Di Stefano played for three different national sides...

...through to the more modern debates about the likes of Lennox Lewis, who won Olympic gold for Canada but subsequently flew the flag for Britain after turning pro.

- - -

10 ways to make Joe Hart world class again

Joe Hart's woes in 2013 saw him go from one of the most respected goalkeepers in the world to a liability for club and country. Our definitive list of Hart Failures at the start of the 2013-14 season showed exactly why - but if only the powers that be at the Etihad Stadium and St George's Park followed our advice, then all would be well again.

Particular highlights are the suggestion for stopping his mad forays out of the box...

...and the idea of bringing in a true expert who knows how to find a good Hart.

- - -