Football, rugby, cricket and much more!
or many foreign observers, the English relationship with sport is one of the hardest aspects of the national psyche to unpick. Packed with tears and cheers our sporting history has been a roller-coaster ride of emotion, triumph and sometimes desolation. But the one thing that stands out is our sheer unrelenting love of all things sporting.
Some stand out memorable moments which spring readily to mind include the 1966 World Cup, the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2005 and 2010 Ashes success in cricket.
In football, still far and away the country’s national sport, individuals bestride each decade, whether it be the wing wizardry of Stanley Matthews in the 1950s or the emotional and technical pyrotechnics of Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne in the 1990s. Undoubtedly the world’s most famous domestic cup competition, the FA Cup Final is still watched by millions around the world.
Cricket, England’s other national sport, also loves a big personality, and the biggest of them all during the post-war era was undoubtedly Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham, whose big-hitting exploits blazed a trail through the ‘80s. In recent years, it was the turn of Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, another all-rounder, to light up the game with his 2005 Ashes heroics.
Athletics has always been another English passion, and another sport to have elevated some memorable athletes to the national pantheon of heroes. During the ‘80s, the record-breaking feats of Seb (now Lord) Coe, Steve Cram and Steve Ovett made them world stars. While in recent years marathon queen Paula Radcliffe has joined them as one of the all-time great English athletes.
English drivers have always led the way on the exhilarating and punishing F1 motor racing circuit - from the playboy charm of James Hunt in the 1970s and the mustachioed precision of Nigel Mansell, to the youthful exuberance of Lewis Hamilton.
And while we might not always come out on top in our favourite sports, some of our grounds and stadiums have become true global icons – such as the famous racecourses at Ascot and Aintree , the tennis courts of Wimbledon , and golf courses of Wentworth and Sunningdale .
Of course, no discussion about English sport would be complete without mentioning the lovable eccentric – 1988 Olympic ski jumper, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, anyone? It’s not always about the winning – it’s the taking part that counts.