This year already appears set to be a golden one for Liverpool – and the club have received a further boost after their heroics to win the Champions League final in 2005 were voted the best ever sporting comeback.
The Anfield outfit found themselves trailing AC Milan by three goals in Istanbul, but infamously rallied after half-time to devastating effect. Goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso, and a triumph on penalties, ensured the trophy would instead by heading to Merseyside.
A poll commissioned by leading bookmaker Coral to celebrate the imminent return of sport asked sporting fans what their favourite comebacks are – with Tyson Fury‘s return to claim the heavyweight crown and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s moment of magic in Barcelona among those chosen.
Liverpool’s dramatic Champions League final in 2005 was voted sport’s greatest comeback
Rafa Benitez’s men fought back from three goals down in Istanbul and then won on penalties
But it is Liverpool’s stellar never-say-die spirit which sees them ultimately top the list. Rafa Benitez’s men appeared to have been blown away by their Italian opponents after the first 45 minutes, but held their nerve in a tense shoot-out to win their fifth European trophy.
Fury’s resounding conquer of Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in February secures the 31-year-old the lofty heights of second spot.
After drawing their first fight in LA in 2018, the British puncher delivered a formidable showing against his previously-unbeaten rival in Sin City, flooring him in the third and fifth rounds. He then regained the world heavyweight crown in the seventh round, stunning the MGM Grand Arena.
It was the biggest step yet on the road back for Fury, who since beating Vladimir Klitschko in 2015 had been suspended, stripped of titles for doping violations and struggled with mental health problems.
Tyson Fury reclaimed the world heavyweight title after defeating Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas
Manchester United fall slightly behind their Premier League rivals in the battle for the greatest ever Champions League final comeback. Mario Basler’s sixth-minute strike handed Bayern Munich the lead, but last-gasp finishes from Teddy Sheringham and Solskjaer ensures the Old Trafford giants claim third place in the rankings with that 1999 triumph as part of the Treble.
Two memorable England Ashes victories at Headingley also feature. The 1981 ‘Miracle of Headingley’, sparked by Sir Ian Botham’s heroic 149 not out, is fondly remembered in fourth spot.
The all-rounder had started the series as captain, but was replaced after taking his tally to 13 winless Tests. But freed of the shackles, Botham’s staunch resistance at the crease set the stage for England to ultimately regain the Ashes at Old Trafford.
Manchester United rallied from behind to beat Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League
Sir Ian Botham’s heroic 149 not out at Headingley helped England regain the Ashes in 1981
Ben Stokes’ unbeaten 135-run knock at the same historic venue means that England’s victory over Australia last year ranks fifth. Stokes was joined by last man Jack Leach with 72 runs still required, but the former’s scintillating display took the hosts to a much-needed win and levelled the series.
Aldaniti and Bob Champion winning the 1981 Grand National finishes sixth, with the jockey having recovered from cancer before riding to a four-lengths victory. The mount himself had also been nursed back to health after career-threatening chronic leg problems almost forced him into retirement.
Michael Jordan’s return to the Chicago Bulls in 1995, a move which saw him win a further three NBA Championships, also features among the best ever comebacks.
Ben Stokes’ unbeaten 135-run knock at the same venue after features on the top ten rankings
Coral’s David Stevens said: ‘The history of sport is full of incredible comebacks, from Niki Lauda to Michael Jordan, Lasse Viren to Tiger Woods, and while everyone will have their own favourite, we wanted to find out which comeback the British public regarded as the greatest ever.
Michael Jordan sealed a second three-peat for the Bulls when he returned in 1995 – this is the game-winning shot against Utah to seal the third straight championship
Jordan won the Finals MVP as he steered Phil Jackson’s side to victory
‘From an initial list of 24 historic comebacks, our survey has shown that despite facing stiff competition from great boxing, cricket, F1 and horseracing revivals, it was Liverpool’s fightback from 3-0 down at half-time against AC Milan 15 years ago that is seen as the greatest ever comeback in sport.
‘However, while that was an extraordinary night in Istanbul, following the understandable break in sport in recent weeks, perhaps now the greatest comeback in sport is the return of sport itself.’
Sergio Aguero became a Man City legend with the league-clinching goal against QPR in 2012
THE TOP 10 BEST EVER SPORTING COMEBACKS
1) Liverpool v AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final
2) Tyson Fury regaining the world heavyweight title in February this year with a seventh-round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Deontay Wilder
3) Manchester United v Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final – trailing in injury-time before those late goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer completed the famous Treble
4) England v Australia Ashes Test Headingley 1981 – The hosts were staring an innings defeat in the face and fans were ready to go home before Ian Botham stepped up and his heroic 149 not out will always be fondly remembered
5) England v Australia Ashes Test Headingley 2019 – Ben Stokes channeled the spirit of Botham at the same ground during last year’s series. His 135 not out earned England a series-saving win as they chased a record 359
6) Niki Lauda winning two F1 World Championships after serious crash – he was back in the car (still bandaged up) just SIX WEEKS after his horror smash in 1976 and won his second title the following year. His third arrived in 1984.
7) Liverpool v Barcelona 2019 Champions League semi-final – not many teams go 3-0 down to Barca and live to tell the tale but doubles from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum overturned that first-leg deficit
8) Aldaniti & Bob Champion win the 1981 Grand National after the jockey recovered from cancer – no wonder a film was made of this story.
9) Manchester City beat QPR 3-2 to win the 2011-12 Premier League title – another of football’s late, late shows as Sergio Aguero became a City legend with the winner after Edin Dzeko’s injury-time leveller gave them hope.
10) Michael Jordan returns to the Chicago Bulls in 1995 – they came up short in the two years he was in retirement after winning in 91, 92 and 93. He led them to a second three-peat on his return and clinched the series against Utah in 1998 with the game-winning shot.