2012 - The Greatest Sporting Year

Jeff Stelling recalls which sporting event angered his wife, Stevo nominates Manny Pacquiao's knockout, and Dewi Morris picks Harlequins' Premiership win...

Last Updated: 26/12/12 1:03pm

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Jeff Stelling (Sky Sports Football)

Football highlight of the year

Even though it happened in front of my eyes, Fernando Torres' goal in the dying seconds of Chelsea's Champions League semi-final second leg away at Barcelona was almost impossible to believe. When Torres got the ball near the half-way line it took a moment for me to register that there was no-one between him and the Barcelona goalkeeper! He'd come on as a substitute 10 minutes or so earlier and had basically been playing left-back and, to be frank, was absolutely hopeless in that position. The only reason that he got into the position that he did to receive the ball, was that he'd drifted up-field because he didn't want to get into the defensive side of the game.

Consequently, he was exactly where Roberto Di Matteo didn't want him to be at that moment. It was a sheer fluke that the ball landed at his feet and off he went and scored. It was the most fantastical ending to the most ludicrous night of football, in some respects. With Chelsea 2-1 down and John Terry sent off, Graeme Souness said to me at half-time that Barcelona could win by seven and nobody disagreed - but that's football for you! When Torres found the net I thought I had a technical fault in my headphones but it turned out to be Gary Neville's commentary!

Other sporting highlight of the year

It's a toss-up between Andy Murray winning the US Open and Europe winning the Ryder Cup, but I've decided to pick the latter for the simple fact that Europe came back from a seemingly impossible position. The climax was pure drama. I was sitting at home watching it with my 14-year-old son late into Sunday night, even though he had to go to school the next day, and as more and more European colour appeared on the scoreboard it became more and more riveting.

It was hard to believe the United States would not win until the moment that Justin Rose holed that incredible putt against Phil Mickelson. At that point we were shouting at the TV and, inevitably, that woke up the rest of the family upstairs. My wife came down and said 'what are you doing? Be quiet!' - and that almost caused a divorce because I started telling her to be quiet! I knew that this could be the Ryder Cup finish of a lifetime. Over the years the Ryder Cup has produced many dramatic finishes but I can't ever remember seeing one like that and I don't suppose I ever will again! And you know what? It was all the sweeter for being in America - as Poulter's celebrations proved!

Keith Arthur (Sky Sports Fishing)

Fishing highlight of the year

I am going to be selfish and list my highlight of 2012 as catching a fish myself. At 2lb 1oz it won't break any records and, for some anglers, it's not that significant but for me, to catch a roach of that size, over the 'magic' 2lb barrier from the Mecca of English fishing rivers, the Hampshire Avon, meant a great deal. To catch it whilst filming for Tight Lines made it even more special. Being there while the first Greenland Shark was being caught on rod and line for television was pretty good, too!

Other sporting highlight of the year

I don't know if my overall sporting moment counts but I'm going for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. Maybe I only half-meant it when I said I wasn't interested in the Games but once I had watched that opening ceremony I simply had to see more. It was absolute genius and I might have missed Bradley, Mo, Jessica et al without it.

Stevo (Sky Sports Rugby League)

Rugby League highlight of the year

My Rugby league highlight for 2012 has to be the try scored by Catalans Dragons against St Helens in the dying seconds of the game at Langtree Park. This try enabled Catalans to draw level with the Saints and after the hooter had sounded Scott Dureau kicked the conversion from the side-lines to win a dramatic match that looked all over for the French outfit who battled back in the second half to snatch victory. The tension was amazing, dramatic scenes from the Dragons squad and total despair from the Saints camp and sadness from the home crowd!

Other sporting highlight of the year

My other sport highlight has to be the knockout punch by Juan Manuel Marquez that put Manny Pacquiao down onto the canvas; I don't think I've ever seen a more decisive, crushing right hand blow! It was as though someone had just switched the lights out or shot him point blank and the way he hit the deck face first indicated how massive that blow was. Thank God he recovered because for a split second I thought the worst. Boxing is a tough sport but I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking he maybe wouldn't get up ever again. The image will stay with me forever.

Richard Moore (Sky Sports Cycling)

Cycling highlight of the year

Bradley Wiggins' historic Tour de France victory stands out, obviously, as the most impressive achievement by any cyclist in 2012, but the single most thrilling bit of racing I saw in 2012 was Mark Cavendish's stage win in Brive, two days from Paris. He had been starved of opportunities, but this was a half-chance, if that. He wasn't going to let it pass.

Wiggins helped out, keeping a strong late breakaway in check, but it seemed as though the opportunity had gone. Then, in the final few hundred metres, Cavendish launched himself. He jumped once, pouncing after the escapees, and then again, passing Luis Leon Sanchez like an F1 car. Truly extraordinary.

Other sporting highlight of the year

Andy Murray's win in the US Open, though I only put it marginally ahead of his Olympic victory against Roger Federer. In some ways the Olympics felt more significant, as though the dam had burst. I was touched by the way this millionaire tennis star seemed to embrace being part of the Olympic Games and part of Team GB, mentioning, as he came off court after beating Federer, how inspired he'd been by 'Super Saturday,' just 24 hours earlier, in particular Mo Farah in the 10,000m.

Charlie Nicholas (Sky Sports Football)

Football highlight of the year

Football-wise, it has to be Manchester City winning the league with the last kick of the ball of the season. I don't think we'll ever have that level of drama again with a side being so close to being losers and ending up as champions. I was actually doing Manchester United on Soccer Special that day and I thought I'd done the champions! Then Merse took over the champions' mantle within a minute of the whistle blowing in my game. It was such drama.

Other sporting highlight of the year

There has been so much to enjoy in 2012, but I'm a big golf fan and a big Ryder Cup fan and I will never know how the European team turned things around on the final day at Medinah. It was a bunch of individuals, but it was about the team spirit and that's what made it so gripping to watch. Football will always be my priority and will always be my number one, but that's as close as I've ever been to being a proper fan. It was unbelievable television and I was in front of the television for the whole day.

Dewi Morris (Sky Sports Rugby Union)

Rugby Union highlight of the year

Harlequins winning the Premiership. I would like to think that it is quite emblematic that Quins won it playing the style of rugby they played. They did have a few speed bumps last Christmas time and they did not perform well in the Heineken Cup but they came good in the final in the end and they did not betray themselves either.

I think Conor O'Shea and all the coaches should feel very proud of what they have achieved. They are the flagship of England rugby and I hope England follow in their footsteps. I also have to mention England beating New Zealand at Twickenham. It was amazing and it was the greatest game at Twickenham that I have ever seen or ever played in. End of.

Other sporting highlight of the year

I came back from holiday and caught some of the Olympics and was captivated by Nicola Adams. Anyone who thinks women's boxing is not a proper sport needs to get into the ring; I have the utmost respect for her. Adams was superb, and her passion, her smile and her courage captivated the nation's heart. She won the first women's gold medal at the Olympics and she is my sports personality of the year.

Sarah-Jane Mee (Sky Sports Cricket)

Cricket highlight of the year

I loved the West Indies winning the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka! I thoroughly enjoyed watching the tournament and if it couldn't be England, I'm glad Darren Sammy's men won. For a side that used to dominate the world of cricket this was a rare title and you could see what it meant to them - dancing Gangnam-style with Chris Gayle doing random press-ups had me laughing for days. That's how you celebrate a win!

Other sporting highlight of the year

It has to be from London 2012 - and there's so much to choose from - but I've decided the Brownlee brothers taking gold and bronze in the triathlon just pips it for me. The Olympics is all about discovering new sports and this was my first taste of a triathlon. It was such a dramatic event; Jonny had been tipped for silver until he was given a time penalty for getting on his bike too early. My heart was in my mouth as those seconds ticked away and he was made to stand in that box! I was on my feet cheering and screaming at the TV! Jonny took bronze and Alistair gold in what is such a gruelling event. For brothers who train together on the Yorkshire moors to both take medals - there has to be a film in the offing!

For more pundit picks of 2012 check out:

Part one - including Mike Atherton, Stuart Barnes and Jamie Redknapp

Part two - including Johnny Nelson, Sir Ian Botham and Niall Quinn

Part three - including Paul Merson, Guillem Balague and Nasser Hussain

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