2016 – Year of the underdog: Lincoln Red Imps add to growing list
Lee Gormley | July 13, 2016
Celtic’s loss adds to year of the underdog
Scottish Premiership champions Celtic appointed Brendan Rodgers this summer with the hope of rebuilding their foundations in European competition, as well as continuing their domestic dominance, but the former Liverpool boss endured a humiliating Hoops bow.
In his maiden competitive game in charge, the Bhoys were embarrassingly beaten 1-0 by part-time Gibraltarian side Lincoln Red Imps, with striker and policeman Lee Casciaro netting after 48 minutes to secure a famous result and continue what has been the year of the underdog.
Rodgers will now hope his men can overturn that 1-0 deficit at Parkhead and edge closer to Champions League qualification but, with this year having already produced many monumental underdog stories, anything is possible for the Red Imps on their upcoming visit to Glasgow.
Following the Scottish giants’ recent shock defeat, Coral look back at other underdogs who have prevailed in the world of sport during 2016 so far…
We start with the big one and arguably the greatest underdog story in the history of sport, with Leicester City having rallied to a historic Premier League title triumph, despite starting season as mammoth 5000/1 outsiders to do the unthinkable.
Claudio Ranieri’s men being crowned champions in 2016 was seemingly an inconceivable feat at the beginning of the campaign, with the Foxes having began proceedings on the back of a successful battle to avoid relegation the season prior.
With each passing month that Leicester sat top of the top flight table, belief began to rise among their fans, while many still overlooked their chances. But come May, Leicester had achieved the impossible dream as heroic skipper Wes Morgan lifted the title aloft at the King Power Stadium.
The Foxes are a more modest, but still promising, 28/1 with Coral to once again reign supreme in England’s top tier and retain their title in the 2016/17 campaign. Could Leicester’s fairytale continue into next season?
UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor was aiming to make history by becoming the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously when taking on then lightweight kingpin Rafael dos Anjos, but an injury to the latter forced his withdrawal.
Instead, with just 11 days notice, fan favourite Nate Diaz stepped in to take his place and go toe-to-toe with the organisation’s leading light McGregor, as they collided in a welterweight match-up at UFC 196 in March.
Stockton’s Diaz entered as the massive underdog, despite being the naturally bigger fighter, and in the second round of the bout put the Irishman in serious trouble, catching him with a series of huge shots and eventually locked in a deadly rear-naked choke.
McGregor was forced to tap out and succumb to his first loss in the UFC, but was admirably humble after his shock setback. The two men will once again go head-to-head at UFC 202 in August and ‘the Notorious’ is 11/8 to gain revenge with a knockout victory in Las Vegas this time out.
In April of this year, Sheffield’s Willet made golfing history by becoming the first European player to win The Masters in 17 years, and only the second Englishman ever to achieve such a feat at the coveted Augusta National.
The 28-year-old’s maiden Major victory saw him end a 20-year wait for an English winner at the famous course in Georgia, America, with with the legendary Nick Faldo having prevailed back in 1996.
Willet capitalised on a final-round capitulation from then-defending champion and runaway leader Jordan Spieth, with the latter having been ahead by five shots as he approached the 10th hole.
The Yorkshireman took the lead when Spieth had a quadruple bogey 7 at the par-3 12th, and rallied to an impressive five under to secure a sensational victory on American soil.
Iceland’s gallant run to the quarter-finals at Euro 2016 was another sublime story featuring a plucky underdog, with the 323k populated Nordic nation defying all odds to win Group F ahead of eventual champions Portugal.
They then ousted England in the last 16 with a stunning 2-1 victory, adding to the Three Lions’ misery at major tournaments, with the country that was guided by a coach that also worked as a dentist winning over many admirers in France.
Heimir Hallgrimsson’s heroic outfit were the only nation to score in every game they featured in at the finals and embodied the international underdog throughout proceedings this summer, with host nation France eventually stopping them in the quarters.
They were on the receiving end of a thumping 5-2 defeat to Les Bleus, who would later lose to Portugal in extra-tie of the final, but their remarkable journey at Euro 2016 will be fondly remembered for many years.
Like Iceland, Wales were not expected to enjoy such an impressive campaign on French turf, but the heroic Home Nation produced superb team performances throughout to reach the semi-finals.
Eventually being toppled by a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal, Gareth Bale and co enjoyed a superb run from Group B to the semis beforehand, topping their standings ahead of rivals England and overcoming both Northern Ireland and Belgium in the knockout stage.
Chris Coleman instilled great passion and drive within the Dragons set up and they should be a force to be reckoned with come the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with their gallant displays this summer proving that a closely knitted group of players can achieve wonders.
The Welshmen recently returned home to a hero’s welcome, and deservedly so, with the likes of Real Madrid star Bale, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Swansea City and national skipper Ashley Williams having helped their country enjoy a super summer across the Channel.
The only success British tennis player Willis had gained before Wimbledon in 2016 was qualifying for the Tunisia Futures F1 in January, in which he reached the quarter-final stage and earned $356.
Although, in a remarkable underdog story set on the grass courts, the 25-year-old rallied through an incredible six qualifying matches to ultimately secure his spot in the main men’s draw for the 2016 Wimbledon Championships.
Despite entering the Grand Slam ranked at 772 in the world, the Slough-born challenger stunned Ricardas Berankis in his opening round match, a player who was more than 700 places above him in the standings, to set up a clash with all-time great Roger Federer.
Willis’ dream run came to an end at the hands of the seven-time Wimbledon champion in the second round, but he left with his head held high and was given a deserved standing ovation for his efforts, while also picking up the BBC’s shot of the tournament award for his ambitious lob against Federer.