Football’s Top 10 Sportsmanship Moments 2012/13

There were so many wonderful moments of sportsmanship in football to choose from, it was very difficult, however here’s the Top 10 moments we broadcasted with BBC Radio London yesterday (on the Phil Parry Sports Show).

BBC Radio London Sports Show host, Phil Parry, invites PR Smith to list the Top 10 Football Sportsmanship Moments from the 2012/13 season. NB Radio/Audio only





Or if you prefer to read them, here they are in reverse order


10th:  Manchester, England

Manchester United v Swansea City. 75,000 Man Utd fans celebrate winning the Premiere League and wave goodbye to Sir Alex Ferguson with each fan waving a memorial gift red flag with the words ‘Manchester United Premiere League Champions 2012/13’. Man Utd also gave each Swansea City fans white flags with the words ‘Swansea City Capital Cup Winners 2012/13’.



9th:  Dubai, UAE

Gulf Cup Semi Final between UAE & Kuwait. UAE striker Esmail Mattar scored a last gasp winner with just ten minutes left on the clock. The usual celebration with his team mates follow as precious seconds tick away. In the post match interview Matter was big enough to apologise for both his & his team’s over-exuberant celebrations. Few players ever apologise these days. Fair play to Mattar. 17/01/13



8th:  Sicily, Italy

An Italian youth league match between Palermo Prima and Vicenza FC stops after 20 minutes as Vicenza kick the ball out of play to allow an injured player get help. Palermo throw the ball their own Davide Petermann who kicks the ball back to the Vicenza goalkeeper but inadvertently scores a goal. Palermo allow the Vincenza team to kick off and then walk the ball into the Palermo goal unobstructed to redress the balance. Class act from youths. 14/01/13  Note: Similar to Millwall v Bournemouth Reserves Avon Insurance Combination match 2002*


7th:  Dublin, Ireland

World Cup Qualifier Ireland v Austria. With both teams vying for the coveted 2nd place, the Austrian keeper, Heinz Linder, makes a brilliant point blank save & Ireland’s Shane Long gives him an instinctive high-five handshake & clamp hands momentarily. 27/03/13 Note: Childhood memories of Eusebio applauding Man Utd’s Alex Stepney’s point blank save in the 1968 European Cup Final*


6th:  Westchester, USA

A beautiful photograph of a young player bending down on one knee and tie-ing the opposition goalkeeper’s laces. The opposition keeper’s big gloves stopped her from tie-ing her own laces. So this sporting young lady, probably remembered parental warnings about ‘always tie your laces’, just did the decent thing and helped the opposition so that the Girls-Under-10 game in the Westchester Youth Soccer League could continue. This reminds me that without an opposition there is no sport! 19/04/13

Football 3



5th:  Shirvenham, England

Non League Football UK. Aylesbury United were beating Shirvenham FC 4-0 in the ¼ finals of the Berks and Bucks Senior Trophy when the match was abandoned after Aylesbury’s Lee Bircham suffered a double leg break. Normally this means a relay but Shirvenham FC honourably asked the FA to allow the result to stand. 15/01/13


4th:  LA, Madrid, Manchester

The most extraordinary story. Abel Rodrigues 41 year old Mexican American floor cleaner living in LA, gives up two weeks of his vacation every time Real Madrid visit, so that he can help. He works voluntarily at their temporary training camp collecting balls, bibs and cones. For years his wife and daughter urged him to visit Madrid and see the ultimate game – Real Madrid v Barcelona. He arrived without a ticket in the near freezing temperature and was told tickets sold out. He sat on the kerb in the icy cold for 4 hours, when Mourinho’s limo passed by and thankfully, ‘The Special One’ was alert and recognised Abel (from LA), stopped the car, greeted him ‘Amigo what are you doing here…?’ You have to read this story – we haven’t room for it all here….but basically Mourinho puts him up in a 5 star hotel, registers him as part of the Real team, travels with them to the game and reception afterwards. The Mourinho says next we travel to Manchester to play them in the European Cup you travel with us………11/04/13



3rd:  Barnet, UK

4th Division Barnet FC were travelling back to London from up North, Acrington Stanley, when their player manager, Dutch legend Edgar Davids (40) saw a crowd of Barnet fans standing in freezing conditions beside their broken down coach on the motorway. He asked his coach driver to pull in at the next service station, asked his team to leave the bus, turned around, went back picked up the fans brought them to the warmth and safety of the service station, where they mingled with the players for coffees and photos. And Edgar Davids gets no salary. This is love of the game and the fans that make it the beautiful game. 21/03/13


2nd: Swiss football club, BSC Young Boys Fans

Thousands of their fans travel a long way to play Liverpool in a Europa League match and wait until almost half time before they unroll a wonderful 30m banner which reads ‘In memory Of Hillsborough’ (declaring their support for the families of the 96 Liverpool fans that died in a crush many years ago). The Liverpool fans respond with several minutes applause. Absolutely magnificent gesture. The generosity of opposition fans. 24/11/12


1st:   Zenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina

In first place, is simply, a game of football. A highly competitive game with both sides playing great football. The match is between Muslim imams and Catholic priests. The result didn’t matter – what mattered was that in a country were 100,000+ died in a terrible war only 20 years ago, these players came together and the brotherhood of football prevailed. More than 4,000 people paid 1 euro to raise funds for a new kindergarten school. The fans cheer “Bosnia, Bosnia” and celebrate whoever scored the 8 goal bonanza. The match, organised by Bosnia’s Inter-religious Committee, was played by priests of the Bosnian Franciscan order and Muslim imams. It was competitive but also very good natured.  24/5/13


Watch the Muslim imams and the Catholic priests play

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* Stories taken from Great Moments Of Sportsmanship & extraordinary sports people (ebook & printed book)

9 thoughts on “Football’s Top 10 Sportsmanship Moments 2012/13”

  1. Great list. Let’s see if José can make next season’s top ten now that he’s back amongst us.
    On the rugby front: How about some gestures of sportmanship from the Wallabies as they host the Lions over the coming weekends? No chance…

    • Thanks Brendan. Sad thing about the midweek games devalued & devoid of their best players (keeping best players for national Aussy squad only) is that I think this might have happened last time Munster played All Blacks? Can you recall? Although Munster’s second string team very nearly beat the ABs – It’s still a shame to devalue all midweek games really.

    • I agree Farrell & there are so many more – it was difficult to narrow them down to just 10. Let’s keep spreading the word – particularly to young players & coaches.

  2. In rugby, typically in the closing minutes of a match, when the losing team is within 3 points they focus on getting into the other team’s half to win a penalty and steal the game. Instead of trying to get the defending team to infringe and give away a penalty, the attacking team can just throw the ball forward (a knock-on) and dive on it to kill the ball. In the ensuing scrum the attacking team can orchestrate a collapse and then has a 50:50 chance of being awarded a penalty. Sadly, in a tight game the referee too often gets lured into this and decides the outcome.However these other stories in the Top 10 here are great. They give me hope!

  3. Yes Philip the rugby scrum is a penalty lottery these days and some teams play for it – or so it seems. However rugby still has that great camraderie between opposition players and also between the fans – that many other sports envy. e.g. I see Roger Utley (former Lion) is cycling from Brisbane to Sydney (1,000KM) along with some former Wallabies to raise money for charity.

  4. Great stories. I like the Mourinho one! Let’s hope sportsmanship is alive and well as the Lions tour Australia…..where I am writing this from.

    • You are dead right – it is the stuff of a lovely story with the ‘special one’ actually supporting the working hero family fan.

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