1 - England finally win a World Cup penalty shoot-out – 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16, July.
When Colombia equalised to take this game to extra time, a lot of people started to dread England would be dumped out of yet another major footballing tournament. When the whistle at the end of extra time went to take the game to a penalty shootout, pretty much everybody in the country was adamant that England would be on the next flight home. Rightly so, given the Three Lions have only won a penalty shootout at a major tournament once before, beating Spain in 1996. Defeats in this manner had seemingly become a regular occurrence – 1996 to Germany, 1998 to Argentina, 2004 and 2006 to Portugal, and 2012 to Italy. But statistics like this are there to be broken, and this England side did just that on an emotional night in Moscow. Jordan Henderson’s penalty was saved by David Ospina, but Mateus Uribe’s miss, Jordan Pickford’s incredible save of Carlos Bacca’s penalty and Eric Dier’s thumping winner ensured a truly incredible moment.
A written explanation of those events on Tuesday 3rd July 2018 cannot come to close to doing it justice. But one only needs to look at a video or photo from any family living room, pub or street to understand just quite what it meant. The national team did something they haven’t done for years – won a penalty shootout, but more importantly, reconnected with adoring fans who have waited so for long for an achievement like this.
AND DIER DOES IT! ENGLAND WIN A WORLD CUP PENALTY SHOOT-OUT FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!
2 - England's post-buzzer winner v Australia, Commonwealth Games Netball Final, April.
This win went under the radar from April until just a few weeks ago, when it won two awards on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year programme. But it should absolutely go down as one of the most incredible sporting moments of the year. Australia, the best team in the world, were playing on home soil at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. They were leading the match going into the final quarter, seemingly on the verge of securing yet another title, after winning the event four years earlier in Glasgow 2014. England levelled the scores at 51-51 with 20 seconds of the entire match to play and came agonisingly close to winning it with five seconds left. It looked as though that would take the game to extra-time, only for a foul to be given against the Aussies. Helen Housby scored with just one second left. Regardless of the sport you follow, no one could not enjoy scenes like this. Beating your rivals on their home court, in the biggest game possible, on the biggest stage possible. A truly fantastic movement, and one that has led to a huge surge in Netball participation across the country.
SHE'LL HAVE IT AGAIN, SHE'LL HAVE IT AGAIN... HELEN HOUSBY TO TAKE THE GOLD... THEY'VE DONE IT, ENGLAND HAVE DONE IT!
3 - Kieran Trippier’s Free-Kick England V Croatia – 2018 FIFA World Cup Semi-Final, July.
The semi-final defeat to Croatia after being 1-0 up will be go down as one of the most heart-breaking moments for English football fans. The team were 22 minutes of football away from a World Cup Final until it all went wrong. Nonetheless, Kieran Trippier’s free-kick to give the Three Lions the lead was a moment of utter chaos. Coming just five minutes into the game, it sent the whole country berserk. This was not the England they had come to know and be frustrated by. Regardless of the final result, the moment itself was one that will be forever in the memories of fans – when the three Lions came closest to reaching their first World Cup Final since the win in 1966.
It's Kieran Trippier... IT'S IN!!!
4 - Tyson Fury’s Return to Boxing against Deontay Wilder, December.
The ‘Gypsy King’ has become one of those love or hate figures in British sport. Regardless of his controversial statements in the past though, no one can deny the inspirational way that he has returned to heavyweight boxing. Stripped of the IBF title in 2015, he then vacated the WBO and IBO titles in 2016. In the 18 months after, he struggled with mental health problems, admitting that at times he had come terrifyingly close to ending his life. After dismantling Sefer Seferi and overcoming Francesco Pianeta on points, an agreement was made to fight Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas. Opinions were split coming into the fight, and weren’t much different afterwards, a draw controversially being given. What was perhaps most incredible about this fight was the way Fury got up in the twelfth round. Deontay Wilder, renowned for his heavy punching, had caught the Gypsy King hard, but somehow beat the count. But as Tyson Fury himself said, if he could get up again from depression and suicide, those Wilder hits weren’t keeping him down.
If I can hit rock bottom and come back and achieve this, you can too. We can do it together. Speak up and get through it, as a team.
5 - Geraint Thomas’s Tour de France victory, July.
Geraint Thomas won Olympic Gold in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games, this first major medals in what is now an illustrious career. On the roads though, he has never been the main man, playing a leading support role for the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome instead. But 2018 would be his year, and rightly so. Thomas has waited and waited for his chance to be the number one, and there are few more deserving riders in the peloton. Chris Froome began the 2018 Tour de France as Team Sky’s main hope, and even after Thomas won both stage 11 and stage 12, there was still no concrete decision from Sky to move to Thomas as the main hope. As the Tour went on though, it became that this was Thomas’ time. His emotions after crossing the Champs Elysses were infectious, and one of the reasons he was successful at SPOTY 2018. Next year offers just as good of an opportunity as 2018, so perhaps Thomas could retain the title?
The Sports Personality of the Year for 2018 is... Geraint Thomas!