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The Magnificent Seven: sporting gestures

Jack Nicklaus, Andy Roddick and World War I all feature in the latest installment of our series.

7. Ajax v Cambuur (Dutch League, 2006)

Ajax were 2-0 up when one of the Cambuur players went down injured, leading to a break in play. When an Ajax player attempted to return the ball to the opposition team, he over-hit his back-pass to the goalkeeper and unwittingly put Ajax 3-0 ahead. Therefore, in a rather surreal moment, Ajax subsequently stood motionless as the opposition kicked off and were simply allowed to score.

What they said about it: “Nice to see fair play still exists” – Grandmaster60 (courtesy of YouTube).

6. Jack Nicklaus (Ryder Cup, 1969)

For the 1969 Ryder Cup on the final hole, Tony Jacklin had a two-foot putt to tie the Ryder Cup for Europe. However, Jack Nicklaus conceded the putt, thus relieving the pressure on the young golfer, while infuriating his teammates in the process.

What they said about it: “I didn’t think you were going to miss that putt, but I didn’t want to give you the opportunity” – Jack Nicklaus to Tony Jacklin.

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5. Andy Roddick v Fernando Verdasco (Rome Masters, 2005)

At match point, Verdasco double-faulted and lost, only for Roddick to correct the umpire’s call, thus handing his opponent a lifeline. Verdasco went on to win the match, as Roddick’s good sportsmanship ultimately cost him his place in the tournament.

What they said about it: “I didn’t think it was anything extraordinary. The umpire would have done the same thing if he came down and looked” – Andy Roddick.

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4. Paolo Di Canio (Everton v West Ham, 2000)

After the Everton goalkeeper was injured trying to clear the ball, the referee failed to blow up and Di Canio was subsequently presented with the opportunity to strike the ball into the empty net. However, to everyone’s amazement, he picked it up and let the goalkeeper receive treatment, declining the opportunity to score in the interests of fairness.

What they said about it: “It was the most fantastic bit of sportsmanship I have ever seen, but I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry” – then-West Ham manager Harry Redknapp.

3. Adam Gilchrist (2003 Cricket World Cup semi-final, Australia v Sri Lanka)

With the stakes considerably high, the umpire incorrectly called Australian Adam Gilchrist not out, yet the batsman decided to walk anyway. At this stage, the game was incredibly close, however fittingly, Gilchrist and Australia went on to win the Cup.

What they said about it: “It was an astonishing moment, partly because it was an Australian, partly because it was such an important game, and partly because the nature of that type of dismissal is rarely clear-cut” – John Stern.

2. Lutz Long (1936 Olympics, Long jump)

After American Jesse Owens – who was competing in the Olympics at a time when black athletes’ very participation was questioned – fouled during his first two long jump attempts, German representative and rival competitor Lutz Long pulled him aside and gave him some useful advice. Long suggested that Owens marked out his run. Owens took him up on this advice and went on to win gold at Long’s expense.

What they said about it: “You can melt down all the medals and cups I have won and they wouldn’t be worth the plating on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Lutz Long at that moment” – Jesse Owens.

1. Christmas truce (World War 1, 1914)

As Christmas approached during the war, the German and British soldiers remarkably arranged a temporary truce. Hence, they put a brief halt to the fighting, as they exchanged Christmas cards and organised football matches in an event that was superbly commemorated in the film Joyeux Noel (see below).

What they said about it: “I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything” – British soldier Bruce Bairnsfather. 

What is your favourite sporting gesture?


Poll Results:


26% Christmas truce (34)

19% Paolo Di Canio (25)

17% Lutz Long (23)

11% Jack Nicklaus (15)

8% Adam Gilchrist (11)

7% Andy Roddick (10)

5% Ajax (7)

3% Other (4)









What have we missed? Let us know by commenting below

YouTube top 10: because one GAA back-heel isn’t enough>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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