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10 Footballers Who Should Have Won BBC Sports Personality of the Year


When Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award was already a decade and a half old.

The prestigious annual accolade is decided by a public vote, handed out to the sportsperson, who is either British or operates mostly in Britain, to have ‘most captured the UK public’s imagination’ that year.

— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 16, 2019

However, as recent high-profile events have shown, there can be dangerous consequences when the British public are tasked with voting, and footballers have been oddly overlooked for this award for decades. In the 66-year history of the award, only five professionals at the peak of the nation’s – and the world’s – favourite sport have ever claimed the trophy.

So, here are a selection of the fine footballers throughout Britain’s long history in the sport who should have a four-turret lens camera trophy sitting proudly on their mantlepiece.

— 90min (@90min_Football) March 25, 2020

2. Wayne Rooney

Goal number 4️⃣9️⃣!#OnThisDay four years ago, @WayneRooney equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record for the #ThreeLions ? pic.twitter.com/BludkuTRqC

— England (@England) September 5, 2019

Manchester United and England’s all-time top goalscorer. Not much more to be said really. Other than it is a mystery as to how Wayne Rooney has never even finished in the top three for SPOTY votes.

Lucy Bronze
Lucy Bronze finished second in the 2019 Ballon d’Or but didn’t trouble the SPOTY shortlist | Marcio Machado/Getty Images

4. Gary Lineker

“He literally bleeds for the BBC”@GaryLineker cut his hand but the show must go on! https://t.co/HHPsvDX5K0 #SPOTY pic.twitter.com/2F9DEYGecK

— BBCSPOTY (@BBCSPOTY) December 20, 2015

— Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 8, 2018

6. John Barnes

John Barnes
John Barnes was at his beguiling best in his debut season for Liverpool in 1988 | Simon Bruty/Getty Images

— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) February 19, 2017

8. Kevin Keegan

— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) February 14, 2019

Stanley Matthews
Sir Stanley Matthews is one of only four Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or | Fox Photos/Getty Images

The inaugural winner of the Ballon d’Or was 39 when the Sports Personality of the Year award was first handed out, yet would still be a professional a decade later. He may be the only footballer to have been knighted while still playing but Matthews can’t count the SPOTY among his personal accolades.

10. George Best

George Best
George Best was placed third and second in the SPOTY voting in 1969 and 1971 respectively | Joe Bangay/Getty Images

Perhaps the ultimate personality in the history of British football, George Best at his blistering peak was a force of nature whose talents have only been heightened in the fog of time.

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