Cape Town - Leading sportsmen and sportswomen across various sporting codes who tragically lost their lives in 2014.
Owner of the Buffalo Bills since founding them in 1960 and a driving
force behind what became the Super Bowl died aged 95 on March 25. Bought
the Bills for $25 000 in 1959, they were valued by Forbes magazine last
year at $870 million. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in
2009. His greatest impact was in bringing together the flashy upstart
AFL and the NFL to create the Super Bowl and usher in the modern
gridiron era, helping guide the league's rise into America's most
popular sports league. Sadly for him his vision was not rewarded with
the trophy itself despite his hugely-talented but temperamentally
suspect Bills reaching four successive Super Bowls in the 1990's and
losing on every occasion - the only team ever to do so on both counts.
British athletics great best known for being one of the pacemakers
for Roger Bannister's landmark four-minute mile run in 1954, died aged
82 on January 19. Chataway, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for
his services to the aviation industry, had a stellar year in 1954 when
he also broke the 5,000 metres world record. For that achievement and
for his role in Bannister's remarkable effort it was he and not
Bannister who was named the first-ever BBC Sports Personality of the
Year. Later became successful journalist and was also a Conservative MP
and achieved ministerial office twice.
Outstanding South African 800 metres runner whose crowning glory came
with the world outdoor title in Berlin in 2009. Died in a car crash
aged 34 on October 24. Described as a true hero by South African
president Jacob Zuma among many other medals he won Olympic silver in
2004 where he was also given the honour of being the flagbearer. He had
barely had time to enjoy retirement having hung up his spikes in 2013.
"Just lost a brother, a friend, a very good friend," tweeted Caster
Semenya, who completed a double for South Africa in the 800m in Berlin
by winning the women's title. "May your soul rest in peace. I love you
man, will always love you CHAMP."
Surprise Czechoslovakian winner of the women's high jump Olympic gold
in 1968 died at the age of 64 on October 19. She also won European gold
in 1969, and married her coach Rudolf Hubner a year later. Rezkova,
also declined a marriage proposal from a Greek millionaire, who offered
her an island in the Aegean Sea as a wedding present.
Colourful character nicknamed 'Gus' enjoyed a limited international
cricket career for Australia despite being a very talented all rounder.
Died aged 62 on June 10. Played 15 tests -- though Don Bradman remarked
to him 'that if I was a selector you'd never play for Australia. You eat
too many potatoes' -- and five one day internationals. The 1975 World
Cup was his finest moment as he took six wickets for 14 runs in the
semi-final victory over England and then five for 48 in the final
against the victors West Indies. Never the healthiest of men he had a
liver transplant in 2005. Also lost a son Clint to a brain tumour aged
just 33. "He was at the front of the queue when they were handing out
talent, but unfortunately he was right at the back of the queue when
they handed out health and good luck," said his captain Ian Chappell,
who led the fundraising for the liver transplant, after his death.
Australian batsman who died on November 27 just days away from his
26th birthday and provoked an outpouring of grief in a country where
those who earn the right to wear the green baggy cap are idolised.
Hughes died from a head injury inflicted when a bouncer by Sean Abbott
struck him in the neck. In all he played 26 tests with his most
memorable his second against South Africa in 2009 scoring a century in
each innings to become at the age of 20 years and 96 days the youngest
player to achieve such a feat. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott led
the many tributes. "Phillip Hughes was a young man living out his
dreams. His death is a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day
for his family. What happened has touched millions of Australians. For a
young life to be cut short playing our national game seems a shocking
Alfredo di Stefano
Real Madrid legend considered one of the greatest footballers ever,
died aged 88 on July 7 after lapsing into a coma following a heart
attack. Nicknamed the 'Blonde Arrow' he played for both his native
Argentina and then his adopted country Spain but like another superstar
George Best never got to play on the biggest global stage the World Cup
finals. However, on the club front it was a different matter playing for
Real Madrid for 11 seasons between 1953 and 1964, winning five European
Cups and being named European player of the year on two occasions (1957
and '59). "Alfredo Di Stefano changed the history of this club and he
changed the history of football," said Real's chairman Florentino Perez.
Algeria-based Cameroon striker died aged 24 on August 23 as result of
injuries received during or after a game for his club JC Kabylie for
whom he was leading scorer the preceding season. While the official
Algerian version is that he died from being struck on the head by a
piece of slate thrown from the stands a Cameroon pathologist, paid for
by the family, has alleged he died as a result of a beating he took in
the changing rooms.
Portugal's greatest player and an inspiration to many including
Cristiano Ronaldo. Died aged 71 from cardio-pulmonary arrest on January
5. Revered as the 'Black Panther' for his remarkable skills he was born
into poverty in the then Portuguese colony of Mozambique and went on to
score 733 goals in 745 matches. It was at Portuguese giants Benfica he
established his reputation. In 1962 he scored the crucial goals in a 5-3
victory over Real Madrid in the European Cup final and in 1965 he was
awarded the Ballon d'Or. "I was the best player in the world, top scorer
in the world and Europe. I did everything, except win a World Cup,"
Eusebio said in 2011, recalling his tears after Portugal's loss in the
1966 World Cup semi-final to England. Tens of thousands of Portuguese
lined the streets of Lisbon despite the driving rain to watch his
funeral cortege pass by while it was also broadcast live on television.
A dashing player for Preston North End and England and regarded as
the equal of his contemporary, Stanley Matthews died aged 91 on February
14. Nicknamed the 'Preston Plumber' because his father insisted he
finish his apprenticeship, he served in World War II in the Desert and
Italy. On returning from duty he scored 210 goals in 473 appearances for
Preston. He also represented his country on 76 occasions, including at
three World Cup finals, scoring 30 goals. Apart from a Second Division
(now the Championship) title, Finney never won one of football's major
honours, ending up on the losing side in an FA Cup final and twice
runners-up in the First Division (now the Premier League). The late Bill
Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager who played with Finney at
Preston, said of him: "Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in
any match and in any age... even if he had been wearing an overcoat."
Robust former Swedish international midfielder died aged just 46 on
October 29 after a five year battle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of
the white blood cells. Most memorable moment came when Sweden surprised
many and reached the 1994 World Cup semi-finals where his physical
ball-winning skills were pivotal to their success. In all he played 57
times for the national side, scoring 13 goals, and numbered PSV
Eindhoven, Bologna, Marseille and Sheffield Wednesday among his clubs.
South African and Orlando captain and goalkeeper aged 27 shot dead by
intruders at his pop singer girlfriend's house in a township near
Johannesburg on October 26. Irvin Khoza, the chairman of the Orlando
Pirates, for whom Meyiwa played, said: "This is a sad loss to Senzo's
family especially his children, to Orlando Pirates & the nation."
Meyiwa had been in outstanding form for club and country, starring for
the latter in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers where he kept
four successive clean sheets to set up Bafana Bafana nicely to
eventually qualify after his death. Replacement goalkeeper Darren Keet
sported a moving, handwritten quote from The Bible on his gloves for the
qualification-clinching victory over Sudan in Durban: "There is no
greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend."
Former Barcelona coach and assistant to Pep Guardiola where they
amassed 14 trophies in four seasons. Died after a three year battle with
cancer aged 45 on April 25. Vilanova succeeded Guardiola when he
stepped down at the end of the 2011/12 season and presided over the best
first half of a league season in the club's history. However, he had to
then take two months out undergoing chemotherapy in New York but Barca
held on to win the title with a record 100 points. He had wanted to stay
on after that but the cancer returned. "To lose is not a drama. What
has happened to Tito Vilanova is," said Spanish tennis legend Rafael
Nadal in tribute.
Only man to win world title driving a car he built himself died of
cancer aged 88 on May 19. The Australian won three world titles in all
(1959, 60 with Cooper Racing and 1966 in his own Brabham car) after
serving in the Royal Australian Air Force in World War II. Nicknamed
'Black Jack' -- for the colour of his hair and his propensity for
maintaining a shadowy silence -- in 1959 he famously ran out of fuel at
the United States Grand Prix and pushed his car across the finish line
to take fourth place and become Australia's first Formula One world
champion. "I eventually stopped about 100 yards from the finishing line,
and I started pushing. If anybody assisted me, I'd be disqualified," he
said. First driver to be knighted for his services to motorsport, the
trophy for the Australian Grand Prix has been named in his honour.
Legendary player who won 10 Stanley Cups died aged 83 after a long
illness on December 2. Played for 20 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens
accruing all his titles with them and was inducted into the Hall of
Fame in 1972 a year after retiring. His haul of Stanley Cups is one
short of the record held by former team-mate Henri Richard. Another
legend, four time Stanley Cup winner Wayne Gretzky summed up the awe
with which Beliveau was held in the foreword to the latter's
autobiography: "I don't think there can be any other figure in the
history of professional team sports who better exemplifies the word
Ebullient trainer died aged 78 on September 25. Became the youngest
trainer in Britain when he took over his late father's stables aged just
20. Went on to train the winner of the Grand National and Champion
Hurdle twice and the 'blue riband' of steeplechasing the Cheltenham Gold
Cup once. Was also adept at spotting riding talent principally 19-times
champion jumps jockey Tony McCoy who he lured from Ireland at a young
age. "I cried when I heard the news my old boss and friend Toby Balding
had died. We had great times together, he was my ultimate mentor," said
the normally unemotional McCoy.
Three-time British National Hunt champion jockey nicknamed the
'Blonde Bomber' died aged 72 on January 5. Lived life to the full both
on and off the course his favourite tipple being brandy mixed with
babycham. He won the 1967 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Woodland Victory, only
able to ride thanks to a painkilling injection because he had badly
injured knee ligaments the day before. Conquered alcoholism and then
with his third wife trainer Henrietta Knight combined brilliantly to
produce triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate (2002/03/04).
Top Irish jockey and a leading trainer who both rode and subsequently
trained a winner of the Champion Hurdle died aged 71 on November 16.
After an inauspicious start to his riding career, he was disqualified
and placed last, he rode Davy Lad to victory in the 1977 Cheltenham Gold
Cup and then Monksfield to the 1979 Champion Hurdle. Trained Hardy
Eustace to win the 2004 and 2005 Champion Hurdles. Father of British
champion jockey Richard and his daughter Sandra who took on his licence
and trained her first winner a few weeks after he died. "There's
gentlemen and then there was Dessie Hughes," commented Hardy Eustace's
rider Conor O'Dwyer.
Former Western Province centre Tinus
Linee died at the age of 45 on Novemer 3. Linee, who was suffering from
Motor Neuron Disease (MND), was diagnosed in 2013. He played 112
matches at centre for his province between 1992 and 2001 and made his
Springbok debut in 1993, at the age of 23. He played nine tour matches
for his country in Australia, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland between 1993
and 1994, but was never capped in a Test.
Outstanding flyhalf who in 1948 inspired Ireland to their only ever
Five Nations Grand Slam died aged 88 on November 27. Capped 46 times, he
also played six times for the British and Irish Lions, the Ulster
legend was voted in 2002 Ireland's greatest ever rugby player, though,
this was before Brian O'Driscoll reached his peak. Was present in
Cardiff when O'Driscoll led Ireland to the Six Nations Grand Slam in
2009. A modest man despite his achievements after retiring he devoted 30
years working as a surgeon in Zambia before returning to live in
Northern Ireland. "I was with Jack at a dinner when he was named as the
best player ever produced by Ireland and he felt embarrassed by it, he
felt humbled by it - but that was the nature of the man," recalled
another Irish legend Mike Gibson.
Former British women's tennis number one died of liver cancer aged 30
on May 4. Born in Ukraine -- her father was Soviet Union international
footballer Sergei who played in the 1988 European Championships final --
and brought up in Scotland, she was ranked a career high 49 and won 11
titles despite being diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a
chronic liver condition which compromises the immune system, aged 19.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) paid tribute to a "tireless fighter".
Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney
The first American woman to win what is now known as the Australian
Open, died aged 98 on November 23. Cheney won the 1938 Australian
Championships and reached the semi-finals of the other three Grand Slam
events in her career, Wimbledon and the French Open in 1946 and the US
Open semi-finals in 1937, 1938, 1943 and 1944. She played tennis into
her 90's and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, joining her
mother May Sutton Bundy in the sporting shrine, and introduced at the
induction ceremony by fellow Hall of Famer John McEnroe.