Forget the medal tables: it was another big year for sporting soap opera. The quotes, the rows and the capybaras that made the past 12 months special
Star of the year
Cristiano Ronaldo won a fourth Ballon dOr, launched a range of CR7 blankets, tossed a microphone into a lake, inspired a tantrum meme, and hosted the eras defining football press conference, with the press banned from asking questions. He denied it was his idea to have all the questions posed by a Uefa media officer instead: I decide nothing. He also appeared to spit out a magic fully-formed Euro 2016 TV graphic during Portugals quarter-final. Flawless.
Manager of the year
Claudio Ranieri, taking the edge off 2016.Hey, man, dilly-ding, dilly-dong. Come on! Former Ranieri player Gianfranco Zola revealed the phrase was tried and tested. Hes always said dilly-ding, dilly-dong. Hes a colourful guy. When I first heard it I knew what he meant. He told me it so many times.
Modern footballer of the year
Plenty of contenders, but two Villa men share the title: club captain Gabby Agbonlahor, relegated on a nitrous oxide legal high two years after extending his Villa deal because: I still get that same buzz pulling on the Villa shirt, and team-mate Joleon Lescott, who livened up last seasons grim run-in by tweeting a photograph of a sports car after a 6-0 defeat and telling the press how going down was a real weight off the shoulders. He left on a free in August.
Also standing his ground: Turkey midfielder Ozan Tufan upset with media criticism during the Euros after he was caught on camera doing his hair as Croatias Luka Modric shaped up to score in front of him. I dont get how a single moment in which I do my hair is deemed a mistake. It damages my confidence.
Best Olympic moment
Capturing the mood: Nikki Hamblin and Abbey DAgostino helping each other finish Rios 5,000m after colliding mid-race. Hamblin: When I went down it was like: Whats happening? Why am I on the ground? And suddenly theres this hand on my shoulder. That girl is the Olympic spirit, right there.
Story of the summer
Syrian teen Yusra Mardini winning her heat in the 100m butterfly for the Refugee Team in Rio, a year after surviving the capsize of a six-man dinghy carrying 20 refugees towards Lesbos. This is really cool there are a lot of stories about me now and a lot of people who want to take my picture: its helping to spread our message. This does not stop here This is not the end.
1) US womens football star Hope Solo, reflecting on their Rio quarter-final defeat to Sweden: We played a courageous game but we also played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win, I strongly, firmly believe that. They wont make it far. They made the final.
And 2) The millionaire golfers delivering their pre-Games reasons for not going to Rio. Rory McIlroy: Though the risk of infection from the Zika virus is considered low, it is a risk nonetheless. Dustin Johnson: My concerns about the Zika virus cannot be ignored. Jason Day: The sole reason for my decision is the potential risk to future members of our family. And Vijay Singh: I would like to play the Olympics, but the Zika virus, you know all that crap.
Best change of direction
Came from Sepp Blatters replacement at Fifa, Gianni Infantino calling his new pay deal proof of its emerging anti-greed culture. Infantino said his modest contract 1.15m basic plus bonuses, car, house, 1,542-a-month expenses and funding for one-off costs such as 1,100 for a tuxedo and 660 on flowers reflects more than any word can reflect my strong will to end recent behaviour.
Former Fifa man of the year
Most relaxed as the FBI took a grip: former Concacaf head Jeffrey Webb, who hosted a Harlem Renaissance-themed blackjack party in February while under house arrest at the Georgia mansion he bought with fraud money. Webb, set for sentencing next May, took the Concacaf presidency in 2012 pledging to draw a line under the organisations shameful Jack Warner era: We must move the clouds, and let the sunshine in.
Interview of the year
Gary and Paul ODonovan, live on RT in August after winning Irelands first rowing gold discussing the craic, Nutella, peeing in cups, how to row (close your eyes and pull like a dog), and how sad they felt to be in Rio because they were missing the Rio-themed parties back in Skibbereen. Last month they were named RT Sport Team of the Year, starred in a new documentary Pull Like a Dog, were interviewed for Graham Nortons New Years Eve BBC1 show, and named as Britains most Googled Irish-related search term in the whole of 2016. Gary: Its funny the way its worked out.
Best commentary moments
Icelands Euro 2016 coverage, and this from Irelands Cathal Dennehy and Ronan Duggan, live streaming Aprils Irish Universities Athletics Association womens 4 x 400m dramatic relay final as an outsider charged from the depths of hell to victory. Dennehy admitted later hed achieved a pitch somewhere between a dog whistle and a squealing pig We all lost our minds.
Worst commentary moments
1) Canadas Olympic broadcaster CBC apologising in August after their swimming commentator called the whole mens 200m individual medley mistaking Michael Phelps for Ryan Lochte; and 2) John Virgo, confident he was off-air during BBC1s live coverage of Mark Selby and Marco Fus epic contest at snookers World Championship in April: I wanted to watch a bit of racing this afternoon. Ill be lucky to watch some fucking Match of the Day. Spokesman: Hes embarrassed and apologetic.
Pundit of the year
The clip that never grows old. Skys Steve McClaren in June, with his in-play analysis of Englands response to Icelands equaliser: Its been the perfect response from England. You just think: No problem, start again, keep dominating, keep getting pressure on the Iceland back four the only thing that they have got is the big boy up front Sigurdsson, who really Sigthorsson Oh, ohhh
Most professional attitude
Sam Allardyce negotiating the 400,000 top-up that ended his 67-day England reign. He promised undercover reporters hed deliver their pretend clients keynote speaking, thats what Id do, Im a keynote speaker plus value for money not just the keynote speech but also in the bar after. I dont come in like a lot of them, bang, youre off. Do you know what I mean? Im going to stand at the bar. Have a few social drinks.
Charlton and Coventry fans, staging a joint protest in October against both clubs boards by hurling hundreds of plastic pigs at the pitch. @CAFCofficial, 3.02pm: Play is stopped. Pigs on pitch. 3.03pm: (Not real ones).
Social media awards
Best live tweeting:
1) Danny Willetts brother Pete, watching the Masters in April with tweets including: Speechless. I once punched that kid in the head for hurting my pet rat. Now look; and: Ive shared a bath with a Masters winner. His Ryder Cup online preview in September which branded US fans pudgy, unwashed cretins and a baying mob of imbeciles didnt go down so well.
2) @hastingsufc, staying professional against the odds in October: Apologies for lack of updates / Ive been stung by a wasp. Even game, no significant chances.
3) And Icelands @rvkgrapevine, giving a minute-by-minute appraisal of keeper Hannes Halldorssons summer performance against Portugal. dinns breath propelled our heroic goalie to swat away that weak-ass header and: GOALIE LIKE THE CLIFF FACE AT DYRHOLAEY THE ONLY THING THAT WILL DESTROY HIM IS CENTURIES OF COASTAL EROSION.
Most sincere tweet: Sunderlands Victor Anichebe, copying and pasting too much of what his PR team sent him after Octobers defeat to West Ham @VictorAnichebe: Can you tweet something like: Unbelievable support yesterday and great effort by the lads! Hard result to take! But we go again!
Most confused: Californian Facebook user Petra Fyde, asking her friends and family in June: At the risk of sounding stupid Why are a bunch of strange men in my fb inbox saying WILL GRIGGS ON FIRE, YOUR DEFENSE IS PETRA FYDE?????? What the hell is going on?
And the most well-crafted pledge: @Joey7Barton, 24 May: To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football. 15 Sep: I apologise unreservedly.
Andy Murray in August, asked by John Inverdale: Youre the first person to ever win two Olympic tennis golds, thats an extraordinary feat, isnt it? Murray: I think Venus and Serena have won about four each. @jk_rowling: Murray just reminded John Inverdale that women are people too.
Among the footballers reacting to Brexit in June:
@PetrCech:It looks like the biggest decision in the history of this country was made based on a fake campaign and lies.
Italys Giorgio Chiellini:The main concern is an eventual domino effect. I dont think the simple UK exit can change the equilibrium of the whole European economy, aside from the heartburn everyones feeling. I think the discontent shouldnt lead to disintegration.
Jermaine Pennant @pennant83: Now we are not in Europe whats going to happen with the next euros 2018???
And Nolito: What is Brexit? I think its a dance. I may be wrong.
25 Nov:England coach Eddie Jones, hailing wing Elliot Daly in the buildup
to their game against Argentina: He does things you dont coach.
26 Nov:Daly sent off after five minutes.
Rio 2016 spokesperson Mario Andrada explaining why organisers couldnt be expected to just fix the green water in the swimming pool overnight: Chemistry is not an exact science.
Best customer service
Back in August Englands slow over-rate against Pakistan prompted spectator Alexis Fuller to tweet: I want 10% of my money back. Wouldnt go to football and find it ended after 80mins. Alex Hales tweeted back: ok DM me your bank details then transferred 4.10.
Miss of the year
Italys Simone Zaza tiptoeing his way to stardom from the spot against Germany at the Euros the summers single biggest non-Ronaldo meme. Among the remixes: Zaza as a seagull stamping for worms, Zaza doing Olympic dressage, and Zaza in a queue for the toilet. Zaza: Unfortunately the ball went too high. It will be with me for the rest of my life.
Single worst moment of 2016
Setting the tone for Trump, Brexit, Farage and everything that followed Germany coach Joachim Lws distressing televised in-trouser scratch and sniff routine in mid-June. Im sorry for it. When you are full of adrenaline, things happen that you dont perceive. I will try to behave differently in the future.
President of the year
Palermos 74-year-old owner Maurizio Zamparini went into 2016 looking to put his coach-eater image to bed. Heres how it unfolded:
10 Jan: Zamparini denies hes already feeling twitchy about his new coach Davide Ballardini. I will not sack him, even though I could.
11 Jan: Sacks him and hires Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
11 Feb:Discovers Schelotto doesnt have his badges and hires Giovanni Bosi instead.
15 Feb: Sacks Bosi and rehires Giuseppe Iachini, who he sacked in November.
8 Mar:Calls Iachini an idiot who has gone mad and replaces him with Walter Novellino.
12 Apr:Sacks Novellino, rehires Ballardini. People say Ive gone mad, but Im the victim here.
6 Sep: Hires Roberto de Zerbi after Ballardini resigns two games into the season.
28 Nov:Denies that he already has his doubts about De Zerbi. I will keep him. That is my decision.
30 Nov: Sacks De Zerbi for being pitiful and hires Eugenio Corini to see out a difficult year. Why Corini? There wasnt much on the market.
Most English moment
In April West Indies needed an unlikely 19 from the final over to win the World T20 and Englands Ben Stokes was the man with the ball in his hand to close out the result. Four balls and four Carlos Brathwaite sixes later, it was over. I send Ben commiserations, said Brathwaite. Hes an absolute legend.
Most unexpected hero
Marcus Willbomb Willis, world No775 when he stunned Wimbledon and, almost, Roger Federer sticking it to trolls who dubbed him Cartman due to his big bones. His Wimbledon run ended with a cheque for 30,000. Its the biggest payday Ive ever had. I can pay off a couple of credit cards now.
Chant of the year
Huh! by Iceland. Also worth a mention: tactics-minded Carlisle fans with a Peter Andre-themed message to manager Keith Curle: Woah-oh-oh-oh, Mysterious Curle, I wanna play 3-5-2.
Best falling down
2016s best football tumbles: Brazilian players Marcelo Cordeiro and Rossi pretending to have been headbutted by each other in October (Cordeiro: Thats just life. Thats the game were in); Toulouse coach Pascal Dupraz feeling upset in November by criticism of his reaction to a paper plane brushing his head: All these critics, theyre so brave; and Louis van Gaals Miranda Hart pratfall in February, as he made a serious point.
Best Strictly contenders
a) Everton manager Roberto Martnez, filmed dancing at a Jason Derulo concert in February; b) Sam Allardyce, spotted in Marbella in May spinning on the spot to Rihannas We Found Love; and c) Alan Pardew, marking Palaces FA Cup final goal by throwing dad shapes on Wembleys touchline. All three of them were sacked within months.
Politicians of the year
Were Icelands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, @MFAIceland explaining how their 23-man Euro 2016 squad chose itself by whittling down their total population of 332,529.
Michail Antonios horizontal-running grass-dance in February after scoring for West Ham. I saw The Simpsons Movie the other day. I think I pulled it off.
Least foreseeable setback
British cyclist Adam Yates, out in front of the main peloton in the Tour de France in July, only to be flattened when a fans belt punctured an inflatable Vittel advertising arch. He still went on to win the white jersey, though.
Skiing star Lindsey Vonn, ambassador for Head skis and bindings, reacted to a ski detaching mid-race in February by posting a video of herself destroying her Head bindings with a hammer. After talks with her agent she clarified: This was in no way, shape or form a reflection on the performance of the Head skis and bindings. I believe in Head.
French fencer Enzo Lefort going into the Rio Games declaring: Ive given everything to get here. Its important not to be distracted then being booed by the crowd after his phone fell out of his pocket mid-bout.
Roy Hodgson, spotting himself on the big screen as England trailed to Iceland.
Andy Townsend, back on ITV for the summer: Thats as blatant a penalty as youll ever see. Was it definitely in the box? I dont know.
Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne, cutting short his presentation to 200 school pupils on the dangers of the internet when his screen started flashing up porn. Organisers said the images did not come from Jarryds device; Hayne: It was awkward. Wow.
Biggest last laugh
Heather Watson picking up the second largest fine in Wimbledon history, 9,040, for racket smashing 1,500 more than Viktor Troickis fine for ranting against the worst ever umpire in the world. She came out ahead, though: winning 50,000 for her mixed doubles victory.
Spare a thought for Serb rowers Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik, who arrived in Rio feeling good after four years of dawn training and sank after 1,250m.
Biggest attention seekers
Headlining 12 months of viral animal cameos:
a) an unflustered cat holding up play at Januarys Everton v Dagenham game, then losing its poise when keeper Joel Robles shooed it;
b) a squirrel doing the same at Marchs third T20 between South Africa and Australia (@samuelfez: Watson into the attack. Zampa at square leg. Maxwell gully. Squirrel deep point #SAvAUS);
c) 20 mongooses storming a green during Novembers European Tours Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa;
and d) two pitch-invading dogs one sparking an early tea in Novembers second India v England Test, another chasing Gois left-back Juninho during a Brazilian Serie B game. Juninho said he ran because you cant tell with dogs; locals told RBS TV that the stray, Zulu, is just soppy If he sees a ball, he goes chasing.
None of them outshone the years top sporting animal, though: Brazils hefty and nonplussed golf course capybaras. Australia captain Ian Baker-Finch: That bloody thing is huge. Have you seen it? Its half wombat, half dog. US player Matt Kuchar: Its like a moosehead on a gigantic rat. US director Andy Levinson: It looks like a dog. Kind of a like a dog-pig.
Plus special mention for: Lorenzo the horse, dancing to Smooth by Santana in Rios individual dressage.
These warning notices stuck above the toilets in Rios Olympic Village, banning a range of unlicensed toilet activities. US basketball star Elena Delle Donne: Guess I wont be toilet fishing today.
Most depressing fact
For fans of a certain age: in May Burys Callum Styles became the first footballer born in 2000 to appear in a League game; in November fellow millennial Moise Kean turned out for Juventus in the Champions League.
Bringing people together
Wales midfielder Joe Ledley: dancing for Europe last summer. Among the headlines: La drole de danse du Gallois and Ledley enflamme le vestiaire.
Cricketer Liam Thomas wasnt discouraged in October when his prosthetic leg came off as he dived near the boundary while fielding for the England Physical Disability team. He hopped after the ball instead and delivered a fierce return. If there are kids out there watching who thought they couldnt play the game before this week, he said later, I want them to know they can do anything they put their mind to.
Most complete reply
Came from 15-year-old Wimbledon girls singles winner Anastasia Potapova responding to press questions about her life after winning the final. I dont have any brothers or sisters but I have a duck, Vita. Shes small.
Haitian hurdler Jeffrey Julmis the undisputed star of the 110m hurdles in Rio. In the lineup before his race he gave the camera some textbook Usain Bolt-style attitude, then went head over heels at the first hurdle.
Proving the world isnt totally broken: Barcelonas under-14s side, gently consoling their tearful Japanese rivals after beating them in the final of Augusts Junior Soccer World Challenge a mix of hugs and pep talks.
Plus: most offended
Japanese pole vaulter Hiroki Ogita upset by reports in August that hed knocked the bar off with his penis. I never expected the foreign media to take me down like this. Its untrue, and I am devastated that they mock and ridicule me so much. He later tweeted: Watching again, this is pretty funny, if I say so myself. LOL.
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