The whole reason we tune into watch different sports week on week is to see the best in the world excel at what they do.
But there is no better viewing in the sport than seeing an underdog triumph over a bigger, wealthier, more world renowned rival, especially if it is done over the course of a Championship or season as opposed to a one off game.
Leicester have achieved the ultimate coup in the 2015/16 Premier League season that will be difficult to ever top, beating 5000/1 odds to lift the trophy.
Here are 7 of the best sporting underdog stories as chosen by me.
Greece (Euro 2004)
Aside from Denmark in 1992, this is the biggest upset in the history of the European Championships. 150/1 outsiders at the start of the tournament, Greece emerged from a group containing hosts Portugal, favourites Spain and minnows Latvia and from then on there was no looking back.
They went on to defeat France in the quarter-final, the Czech Republic in the semi-final and secure a 1-0 victory over Portugal in the final to cap off what was an amazing achievement in only the country’s 2nd ever appearance at the Finals.
All the more remarkable given the team had no superstars, only 8 players who played outside of the Greek league and a coach, Otto Rehhagel who masterminded another great underdog story in leading Kaiserslautern to the Bundesliga 7 years previously.
Phil Taylor (BDO World Championship 1990)
Many of you will know Phil “The Power” Taylor as the most decorated player in the history of professional Darts. What you might not know is that he was a 125/1 unseeded outsider when he won his first of 16 World Championships in 1990.
Entering the tournament having only won the Canadian Open in 1988 and being sponsored by friends and fellow players to travel round to tournaments before this. Taylor only dropped 3 sets in 4 matches en route to the final, where he would play mentor and number 1 seed, Eric Bristow. “The Power” destroyed his fellow Englishman 6-1 to kick-off one of the most dominant runs in the history of any professional sport.
In one of the last unified darts World Championships before what is now known as the PDC split from the BDO, Taylor became the biggest under-dog story of the darting world. A fitting triumph for a place in this list.
Goran Ivanisevic (Wimbledon Singles Champion 2001)
Arguably the biggest shock at a Grand Slam in Tennis history, the Croat stunned the world by becoming the first wild card to win the biggest tournament in the game.
Ivanisevic was ranked 125th at the beginning of the event and at odds of 300/1, it was inconceivable that he would be lifting the trophy. But victories over seeds Carlos Moya, Marat Safin, Tim Henman and Pat Rafter in a thrilling 5 set final clinched his only career Grand Slam in what would be his only career singles final at a Grand Slam.
Currently he is the coach of Croat Marian Cilic whom he has led to his only Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2014.
Foinavon (1967 Grand National Winner)
As many people will know, the 40 runner marathon contest at Aintree can turn up some big priced winners, just look at fellow 100-1 winner Mon Mome in 2009.
Foinaven however was the original Cinderella story back in 1967 in one of the most famous renewal’s in history. A 23 horse pile up at the smallest fence on the course (there after named Foinaven in his honour) allowed jockey John Buckingham, who only missed the pile up as they were so far behind, to steer his horse clear of the carnage and go on to win the race at a canter.
The owner, Cyril Watkins had so little faith in the horse, he hadn’t even bothered to go to the track to watch him run. It is one of the most iconic moments in the history of the place and the fact that there’s only been one 100/1 shot win the race since, he takes his place on the list.
Ben Curtis (Open Champion 2003)
Ben Curtis might be the biggest single underdog story in sport if you consider his achievements before and after his major win. Ranked 396th in the World at the time, he has only ever won 5 golf tournaments in his professional career to date.
He entered The Open as a 300/1 shot and carded a final round 69 to come from 2 behind and beat Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh by one shot. In doing so he became the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win his maiden major tournament and he is still the lowest ranked winner of a major since the ranking system began.
Curtis turned professional in 2000 and his highest finish in a major aside from this win was a T-2 in the 2008 PGA Championship. He has currently slipped down to a ranking of 527th having risen as high as 35th following his triumph at Royal St. George’s.
Kaiserslautern (Bundesliga Champions 1997/98)
The original Leicester City occurred almost 20 years ago in the German Bundesliga. FC Kaiserslautern, only promoted from the 2.Bundesliga the previous season, won the league by 2 points from defending Champions Bayern Munich.
Unlike Leicester however, they had splashed a bit of cash following their promotion. They signed Ciriaco Sforza from Internazionale in a great coup for the side along with Bulgarian international Marian Hristov, German winger Andreas Buck, and a young talent called Michael Ballack.
Manager Otto Rahhagel (remember him?) popularized the phrase “kontrollierte Offensive” or controlled offence. He prefers a grass-roots approach to football, stressing the importance of at least two but mostly three big, strong headers in central defence. This defensive solidity saw them take top spot on on the 4th weekend of the season and never relinquished it. They remain the only club in the history of German football to win promotion to the top tier and follow that up by winning the league and given Bayern Munich’s domestic dominance, it doesn’t look likely that this record will ever be equaled.
St. Louis Rams (Superbowl Winners 1999)
The NFL prides itself on its “draft” system where by the worst team from the previous season gets the choice of the best players coming out of college, theoretically giving them the best chance to win next season.
This very rarely comes to fruition however as much like in football, in takes players time to adapt to the professional game, especially at the skilled positions. The 1999 Rams, their offense dubbed “the greatest show on turf” with Kurt Warner at Quarter-back proved why the motto “any given Sunday” rings true in the NFL. They went into the season projected to be the worst team in the League in previews, even worse than that years expansion team the Cleveland Browns.
They duly went 13-3 in the regular season securing their first playoff appearance since 1989 when the team was in Los Angeles. The Rams and it has turned out to be its one and only Super Bowl win to date. Wins over Minnesota and Tampa Bay brought them to the show and a 23-16 victory over Tennessee gave the 400/1 team at the start of the season, one of the biggest shocks in the history of the NFL.