Top Ten: moments of 2008
Skysports.com looks back at the Top Ten footballing moments of the year
By James Dall. Last Updated: 09/04/09 4:19pm
Windass: Hull City hero
It has been an incredible 12 months on the football field with remarkable feats and extraordinary events.
Reporter James Dall had the unenviable task of looking back on 2008 and narrowing down the events to highlight to just 10.
Here are his top moments of 2008. If you think he has missed something that deserves a place in the top ten then let us know using the form at the foot of the page.
Windass sends Hull City to top flight
Hull City met Bristol City in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on 24th May. I remember this day well for I commentated on the clash. As expected, the atmosphere was fraught with tension as one of football's most coveted prizes lay in wait: Premier League status. It was a 39-year-old that stole the show to send the travelling fans from East Yorkshire beside themselves. With 38 minutes gone the stocky figure of Dean Windass waited to pounce. Tigers' on-loan attacker Fraizer Campbell danced to the by-line and pulled the ball back for his team-mate. Windass then demonstrated sublime technique to smash home first-time on the volley. It proved to be the only goal of the game as Hull City reached England's top tier for the first time in their 104-year history.
City complete record signing
The Abu Dhabi United Group's summer takeover of Manchester City set up a transfer deadline day like no other. Backed by beefy financial muscle, City's rumour mill went into overdrive. There were whispers aplenty of bids from Eastlands for a number of the world's most high-profile players. Robinho was mentioned, but most expected the Brazilian star to either remain at Real Madrid or join Chelsea. However, as the Sky Sports News countdown clock ticked by it was announced the playmaker had signed for City. Robinho had clinched the switch for a British record fee of £32.5million, inking a four-year contract with the blue half of Manchester. It was a staggering feat that symbolised the shocking power of money in football today.
Spain's crowning at Euro 2008
Englishmen were relieved of sweaty palms and ultimate disappointment after Steve McClaren's washout. Some adopted new nations in the summer, and Spain were a favourite among many. Their panache and swagger (jealousy perhaps) was an attraction and, like us, they had been starved of success for a long while. This time around, though, in Austria and Switzerland, Luis Aragones had his men firing on all cylinders. They powered through to the final, seeing off World Cup holders Italy on penalties in the process, to set up a clash with efficient Germany. Here, football was rewarded. The Spaniards, while rivalled by the Dutch, were stand-out performers throughout the tournament and they were duly rewarded for their ethos as Fernando Torres' solitary strike ended their 44-year wait for international glory.
Keegan's return to St James' Park
Incredible. The 'Messiah' returned. Kevin "I'd love it..." Keegan made his comeback to football management in the most enthralling of circumstances. Keegan is considered a legend on Tyneside after he oversaw a successful first stint at the club in the 90s. The Magpies were on the hunt for a new boss after parting company with Sam Allardyce. Numerous names had been linked to the vacancy but supporters pined for Keegan. And on 16th January their prayers became a reality. The club sensationally confirmed he would return as their next manager after three years out of the game since his post at Manchester City. The announcement sparked a frenzy of excitement in the North East. And while since then things have turned a little sour, Keegan's return will be forever remembered as a fascinating turn of events.
Havant & Waterlooville's heroics at Anfield
Havant & Waterlooville's opening goal at Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round was met by a wave of astonishment in skysports.com headquarters. Indeed, there was cheering, followed by members of staff hurriedly leaving their desks for a view of the nearest screen showing the Anfield encounter. The eruption of voices was not out of dislike for the Reds, but for encouragement of the underdog. Non-league club Havant & Waterlooville - a team that sits not too far away from my hometown - lay 123 league places below their hosts. Chances of an upset were deemed very close to nil and yet Richard Pacquette made it 1-0 after eight minutes. Lucas Leiva levelled in spectacular fashion but Shaun Gale's Havant & Waterlooville were not yet finished as they again took the lead. Liverpool went on to win 5-2, but this game will never be forgotten for its rekindling of FA Cup magic.
England exact revenge on Croatia
A little patriotic perhaps, but the magnitude of England's impressive 4-1 victory in Croatia should not be overlooked and stands out in 2008's 366 days of football happenings. Manager Fabio Capello and teenager Theo Walcott were among the heroes to restore belief in English football. Revenge was on the tip of most supporters' tongues during the build-up to the 2010 World Cup qualifier. Ten months earlier Croatia inflicted serious damage on England as they claimed a deserved scalp at Wembley to end their opponents' hope of reaching Euro 2008. Expectations and confidence in the national side reached an all-time low. But on 10th September 2008, under the guidance of Italian coach Capello, England went some way to making amends for their previous agony. Walcott struck an excellent hat-trick, coming of age in the process, as Croatia's fine home record suffered a crushing blow.
Portsmouth claim FA Cup final glory
The two teams involved in the 127th FA Cup final proved to be a surprise duo. Championship club Cardiff City and Premier League team Portsmouth did battle to buck the trend that has seen the 'big boys' dominate Wembley's showpiece. The match-up itself was hardly a classic, I was there as both sides locked horns with effort but to little attacking avail. It was the occasion, however, that made it so special. Perhaps there is credence in the suggestion that supporters of the more successful teams take glamour games like this for granted. This clash, however, saw both sets of fans full of voice and savour throughout the 90 minutes. Pompey triumphed via Nwankwo Kanu's solitary strike. His effort ended the South Coast outfit's 69-year wait for FA Cup glory as captain Sol Campbell lifted the trophy that also resulted in their eligibility for the Uefa Cup.
Manchester United clinch a memorable double
Again, we are not really looking at the match itself here - more the moment that Manchester United capped off what was without question an incredible season. They had already pipped Chelsea in the Premier League title race, on the tensest of final days. Moscow lay in wait as Chelsea sought revenge, and United a memorable double. The Red Devils triumphed 6-5 on penalties after the two sides could not be separated following 120 minutes of battling in heavy rain. Edwin van der Sar proved to be the hero for the Red Devils as he pushed away Nicolas Anelka's sudden-death effort, cuing jubilant scenes as fans danced and hugged in the stands while players mobbed their Dutch team-mate. The trophy headed back to Old Trafford for the first time in nine years and sits snugly next to the league title.
Chris Iwelumo's horror miss for Scotland
This is anything-but a moment of glee for any spectator. Scottish or not, it is cringe-worthy viewing. Iwelumo's miss makes our top 10 for the simple reason that it is largely unforgettable. A quick look on YouTube shows in excess of 200,000 views of the incident. The Wolverhampton Wanderers striker was handed his first call-up to the international scene by manager George Burley in October. The Scots were struggling to break down their Norwegian opponents in a 2010 World Cup qualifier. Iwelumo was handed his chance as he entered the fray in the second period. And on 67 minutes an opportunity presented itself. A chance to become a hero. Gary Naysmith rolled across goal and Iwelumo steadied himself to tap home from just yards out with an open goal at his mercy. But he somehow - seemingly impossibly - steered it wide. He looked gobsmacked, as Hampden Park fell silent with shock.
Joe Kinnear's infamous press conference
Admittedly, there was some scoffing in our office when Joe Kinnear was announced as Newcastle United's new interim manager in September; the appointment was out of the blue. However, Kinnear's press conference rant that followed provoked a lasting reaction. The former Wimbledon boss, who has since been handed a contract on Tyneside until the end of the season, was left outraged after reading stories himself in the press. He immediately sought out reporters from The Daily Mirror and The Daily Express. The journalists in question met Joe's wrath. What ensued were 50-odd swearwords in a tirade of awkwardness as the Magpies press officer, one can only imagine, shifted nervously in his seat. The rhetoric was astounding. If you have not listened or read it yet in full, and your ears are not easily offended by foul language, you're missing out on one of the moments of 2008.