DECEMBER 17 - Top 30 Talents: The best young players in the world
From Dominik Szoboszlai through Alphonso Davies to Jadon Sancho, in May at the height of lockdown, Eurosport counted down the top 30 young talents in world football. The only criteria was that they had to have been born on January 1, 2000 or later.
Some have since moved on - Jude Bellingham, Pedri and Ferran Torres, to name three, to Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona and Manchester City - but the list remains our definitive guide to the best young players in the world.
- Top 30 Talents: The best young players in the world (30-21)
- Top 30 Talents: The best young players in the world (20-11)
- Top 30 Talents: The best young players in the world (10-1)
Have players moved up or down the list since the restart of football in your opinion, let us know on Twitter: @Eurosport_UK.
DECEMBER 18 - Federer 'not even the second best player ever', says Cash
The above list *could* contain a player who *may* go on to become its sport’s leader, in a way that Roger Federer is pretty much universally recognised within tennis. Pretty much being the operative term given Pat Cash’s sentiments back in June, who claimed that Federer will not only fail to go down as the best player ever, but fail to be remembered as the second best.
Here are Cash's quotes in full:
"Everybody says Federer is the greatest player of all time, but he’s not even the second greatest in his own era.
That’s hard to believe. If you are the best of all time, you should at least have a head-to-head record against your number one rival or number two rival. Surely, that would be the very first factor, I would say.
The 1987 Wimbledon winner added that the 20-time Grand Slam winner was "a little old school".
DECEMBER 19 - 'I'm taking full ownership' - Ronnie O'Sullivan on fart
Ronnie O’Sullivan won a sixth world title in August but made ripples elsewhere across the snooker calendar – most notably at the Northern Ireland Open.
A tournament for the ages, full of drama and tension – read our recap here - may be best remembered in some quarters for a mid-match fart. Matthew Stevens led O’Sullivan 2-1 in their third-round match in Milton Keynes when someone broke wind.
“I don’t know who it was but I’ve got my suspicions,” announced Neal Foulds on Eurosport commentary duty.
The camera panned first to O’Sullivan, who couldn’t suppress a grin, before it fixed on an unavoidably guilty looking referee.
Best of 2020: O'Sullivan grins after mid-match fart
“He couldn’t be any redder, could he,” added David Hendon alongside Foulds. “If he was any redder, he would be one of the balls in the bunch.
But there was a twist in the tale. Just as everyone was ready to convict the referee, O'Sullivan revealed in the Eurosport studio that it was actually him.
"I dropped my guts," admitted O'Sullivan after his 4-2 comeback win. "I've had bad stomach problems for the last three months, I've been having tests in the hospital. I said to the ref, 'was that you?' We had a laugh out there. But I'm taking full ownership of that one.
DECEMBER 20 - Djokovic tests positive for Covid-19, 'extremely sorry'
After yesterday's fart humour, we arrive at a much more serious story: Novak Djokovic flouting guidelines surrounding Covid-19.
Djokovic's representatives confirmed the news in June following the controversial Adria Tour which he helped organise. He has been heavily criticised for his part in staging and promoting the Adria Tour event, which has seen a number of high-profile players test positive. Grigor Dimitrov was the first player to publicly announce that he had tested positive, resulting in the cancellation of the final.
Djokovic's team released a statement saying: “Novak Djokovic tested positive for a virus Covid-19. Immediately upon his arrival in Belgrade Novak was tested along with all members of the family and the team with whom he was in Belgrade and Zadar. He is not showing any symptoms.
The world number one added:
The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena's, while the results of our children are negative.
DECEMBER 21 - Mbappe scores incredible solo goal against Lyon
Kylian Mbappe scored a hat trick as Paris Saint-Germain dismantled 10-man Lyon 5-1 in the French Cup semi-final back in March. The pick of the three was this mazy solo goal.
Watch Mbappe score incredible solo goal against Lyon
Mbappe would finished ninth in Eurosport's Star of the Year awards, here is what Fabien Esvan of Eurosport France had to say of his excellence.
Despite an interrupted season in France, the world champion still had time to make an impression. The top scorer in the French league for the second year in a row, tied with Wissam Ben Yedder, the Parisian was once again one of the headliners of the Parisian quadruplet. Although his form in the Champions League has been somewhat patchy, he has still found ways to show his class. The Parisian was one of the key performers for PSG against Atalanta and Leipzig. If his play in the last Champions League final was somewhat disappointing, marked by his failure to beat Manuel Neuer, the Frenchman achieved strong enough showings which allowed him to be named in the team of the competition by UEFA. Making a statement this season, Frenchman has got going with 10 goals and 7 assists in 13 matches. On December 5, he scored his 100th goal for Paris Saint-Germain. If 2021 sees him continue to shine and express his talent, the French striker could take the Parc des Princes side to even greater successes.
DECEMBER 22 - De Gea’s time still up?
2020 was a tough year for David de Gea, whose mistakes became a pattern rather than a blip, leading Alex Netherton to write that his time was up. Roy Keane said after an error against Tottenham that he would be fighting the goalkeeper in the dressing room after the match... were he still at the club.
Manchester United recalled Dean Henderson from his loan spell at Sheffield United but the Spaniard remains the incumbent at Old Trafford. Is his time up? Does Netherton’s point - as teased below - still hold?
After all, at 29 it would be freakish if De Gea’s body was at the root of the problem. There have been enough elastic reflex saves even over the past two seasons of miserable form to demonstrate that physically there are no obvious shortcomings. It appears that the yips have taken him down, and there is no clear way back.
DECEMBER 23 - From an angry confrontation to (losing) the greatest frame in snooker history
Anthony McGill had himself a World Championship to remember. In the second round he squared up to Jamie Clarke following some eyeline controversy, as evidenced below.
Watch shock confrontation between Anthony McGill and Jamie Clarke at World Snooker Championship
However, having overcome Clarke, McGill would make his way to the semi-final where he would lose to Kyren Wilson. Perhaps he would take some solace in the fact that during that 17-16 semi-final loss, in the deciding frame, in fact, McGill produced a stunning piece of sporting drama.
The total frame score of 186 was one of the highest in history following a succession of fouls from both players, as well as some truly shocking misses.
'The most incredible frame... ridiculous' - Watch remarkable exchanges between Wilson and McGill
As Wilson put it in the Eurosport studio afterwards: "Mental match, mental decider…I just couldn’t believe what was happening… it was one of the best semi-finals you will ever see."
DECEMBER 24 - Ronnie O'Sullivan courts controversy with 'ridiculous' shot against Mark Selby
Ronnie O’Sullivan won a sixth world title in August but it was not without controversy... and one such moment occurred close to the end of his semi-final against Mark Selby.
At a crucial moment in the 30th frame, with Selby leading 15-14 in the best-of-33 encounter, O’Sullivan smashed the cue ball around the table when in a tight spot. Leading 53-47, Selby gave O’Sullivan a tricky shot on the pink, leaving his opponent lurking behind the black. O’Sullivan’s first attempt missed narrowly, as Selby collected six points for the foul.
'An absolutely ridiculous shot' - Ronnie O'Sullivan smashes cue ball
Selby then decided to put O’Sullivan back in again, and at 12 behind and 13 left on the table, O’Sullivan knew he had to hit the pink to save the frame.
But he whacked the cue ball with excessive force, leading to criticism for his conduct.
"It’s just a ridiculous shot, an absolutely ridiculous shot," said Neal Foulds on commentary. "That’s Ronnie letting himself down, I’m afraid."
DECEMBER 25 - Swiatek stuns the tennis world
In any other year, Ronnie O’Sullivan’s achievement of winning a sixth world title would have represented the year’s most remarkable sporting feat. Not in 2020. That accolade belonged to Iga Swiatek.
She became the first Pole to win a Grand Slam singles title as she beat Sofia Kenin 6-4 6-1 in quite brilliant fashion to clinch the 2020 French Open crown. The 19-year-old put in a breathtaking performance as she downed the American in a convincing victory to take the spoils at Roland Garros and become the latest teenage champion in Paris.
Highlights: Swiatek storms past Kenin to win French Open
It was her maiden WTA title. She won it without dropping a set. It was remarkable.
Best of 2020: Watch the moment 'superstar' Swiatek wins French Open
"It's crazy for me because I watch every year how Rafa lifts this trophy so it's crazy that I'm in the same place," Swiatek said in amusing fashion in her on-court interview.
DECEMBER 26 - And the six-time world champion
On August 16 2020 Ronnie O’Sullivan won a sixth World Snooker Championship title after beating Kyren Wilson 18-8 in the final. It reignited the debate over who was snooker’s greatest-ever player.
The victory moved him level with Ray Reardon and Steve Davis on six world titles, one shy of Stephen Hendry's record of seven, and saw him surpass Hendry at the top of the all-time list of ranking event wins with 37 titles.
Best of 2020: Watch moment Ronnie O'Sullivan clinches sixth World Snooker Championship title
When I was a kid I never dreamed I would be here," said O'Sullivan, who had last won the title in 2013.
“I played for the fun of the game and I still try to play for the fun of it. To be here and to have all those victories is a dream. It’s becoming a bit of a reality so it’s nice to be living the dream.
Ronnie O'Sullivan on 'snooker god moment' against Mark Selby after sixth World Championship title
The topic of snooker’s greatest had been visited during lockdown on The Break podcast, and it certainly worth a re-listen.
DECEMBER 27 - Roger Federer gets code violation for swearing
Elite athletes are elite athletes for many reasons, many of those reasons vary between the athlete and the sport they compete in. However, all elite-level athletes are next level competitive, no matter how well they hide it.
Roger Federer, probably the best tennis player to grace a court - pay no attention to Pat Cash - hides his brutal competitiveness with charm. However, make no bones about it, he is competitive.
And that competitiveness came out during the 2020 Australian Open, when he let go of a tirade of bad language during his quarter-final win against American Tennys Sandgren.
Fed is, of course, a man of culture whose expletives were in a myriad of languages but it still cost him A$3,000.
'What did I say??' - Federer given warning for swearing
If his tirade of language was an attempt to get himself in the zone then it worked: he saved SEVEN match points in a 6-3, 2-6, 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-3 win.
DECEMBER 28 - 'Helicopter blows barriers into riders' in major crash at Giro
A headline that reads, ‘Helicopter blows barriers into riders in major crash, Wackermann abandons with injuries’ may have seemed far fetched during any other year but not in 2020.
This is exactly what happened at this year’s Giro, with Luca Wackermann and Etienne van Empel (both Vini Zabu – KTM) getting caught up in a freak crash during Stage 4 at the Giro d’Italia after barriers were blown across their path.
Reports suggested that gusts from a low-flying helicopter had propelled the barriers into the road, with television pictures showing the riders stricken on the tarmac towards the end of the trip from Catania to Villafranca Tirrena.
Wackermann was taken to hospital where it was confirmed he had a concussion and multiple facial injuries, including a fractured nose. He will stay in hospital overnight and will not start Stage 5.
Van Empel managed to finish the stage in last place, some 13 minutes down on winner Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ).
Van Empel on helicopter incident - 'I was lucky to get away without serious injury'
"The helicopter was flying too low, the movement of the air blew up the barriers. Wackermann was sent to the hospital, he was barely conscious," Vini Zabu team boss Angelo Citracca told RAI at the time.
DECEMBER 29 - Kyrgios imitates Nadal – and even the umpire laughs!
Nick Kyrgios has had himself a year. He began by raising money for the victims of the Australian bushfires.
The Australian star said the following ahead of the Australian Open:
"I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires," Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
I’ll be donating $200 [£106] per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer.
It showed a more serious side to the 25 year old but he also had time to display his less serious side at the same tournament, where he took the time to mock his old nemesis Rafa Nadal.
When the Hopman Cup winner was given a time violation when serving in his second-round match against Gilles Simon, he decided to question it by mocking Nadal.
Widely seen as one of the quickest players on the ATP Tour, Kyrgios was not too happy about the call from the umpire.
The Australian proceeded to mime brushing his hair behind his ears before adjusting his shorts, an imitation of Nadal who has become known for a meticulous routine before serving.
Kyrgios imitates Nadal – and even the umpire laughs!
The umpire saw the funny side, while even opponent Simon copied Kyrgios when getting a time violation of his own.
DECEMBER 30 - Celebrating too soon...
In early October, Julian Alaphilippe suffered one of the most embarrassing mistakes in Monument history as the world champion was denied on the line by Primoz Roglic at Liege–Bastogne–Liege.
Alaphilippe was already celebrating with his arms outstretched as Roglic dipped on his inside - and a photofinish subsequently proved what Alaphilippe had feared.
Is this the best finish in Monument history? Watch Roglic's famous win and Alaphilippe's howler
The Frenchman's blushes were spared when he was later demoted from second to fifth for darting across the line of Tadej Pogacar and Marc Hirschi, meaning his premature celebration wasn't the only thing that cost him victory...
DECEMBER 31 - Osaka's remarkable summer, on and off the court
In late August, Naomi Osaka added her voice to the growing sporting protests across America by withdrawing from the pre-US Open tournament, the Western & Southern Open, in protest of the “continued genocide of Black people”.
"As a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis," Osaka wrote in a tweet.
"I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.
"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach."
Such was the weight of Osaka’s intervention, the tournament would be postponed for a day and Osaka would return to beat Elise Mertens in straight sets.
She would withdraw from the final injured but would go on to win the US Open for the second time beating Victoria Azarenka., wearing masks bearing the name of a different Black Americans before each round in New York to highlight racial injustice.