Usually, I hate the best and worst lists everyone seems obsessed with at the turn of the year. But here is one little list I couldn’t help making as the curtain came down on 2006. Amidst all the beginnings and ends, those that were important to me were the retirement of three sports personalites. They all come from different parts of the world, play different sports, and will be remembered for different things.
Martina Navratilova: Having been a fan of Navratilova since I was a kid, I always regarded her as a permanent fixture in the world of tennis. It came as a shock, therefore, to realize that she was *gasp* really retiring this time! With 177 titles in a career spanning three decades, it is no surprise that she is considered one of the greatest in the game. I lost my interest in tennis a long time ago, but not in Navratilova. No stranger to controversy, she has also lent her voice in support of underprivileged children, animal rights, and gay and lesbian rights.
It feels weird to think she won’t be playing any more…
Zinédine Zidane: “Zidane’s legacy was more than the goals he scored, the titles he won, the honours he was awarded. His legacy is a testimony to the fact that good guys need not finish last.” This is what I wrote on a detailed write-up after his controversial exit from the World Cup final between France and Italy in July 2006, and that just really sums him up. Despite the head-butt incident and the red card, his inspirational leadership in the 2006 World Cup still won him the Golden Ball. He’s reputed to be a shy, simple man, but it is really hard to sum up this footballing magician, father of four, former UNDP Goodwill Ambassador…
It is said that no person can be greater than the sport, but with Zidane, it makes you wonder.
Glenn McGrath: In 2001 I made my first Web site. It was to cover the Ashes Tests between Australia and England. I called it Line and Length… after Glenn McGrath! His unerring accuracy makes him one of the deadliest bowlers in international cricket. Tthe smiling mild-mannered countenance notwithstanding, he is hated and feared by batsmen near and far. McGrath’s Test retirement will come into effect after the fifth and final Ashes Test in Syndey, Australia. He will continue playing one-day games till the World Cup later in 2007.
I know I will really miss that easy run-up and smooth delivery action. Miss those bewildered batsmen facing him. Lately I have been feeling that I’m “growing out” of cricket, and the retirement of the Waugh twins over the past years increased that. When Glenn McGrath goes, there will be a one huge reason less to watch.