It’s a big call but I’m making it: Sir Andy Murray is the greatest sportsman Britain has ever had.
I’ll confess I am a huge tennis fan, so somewhat biased, but that doesn’t make me wrong.
On the day he says he’s planning to retire, I’m going to make the case for why he’s the best British man in sport.
Let’s take a look at some facts about Murray first of all:
- Three times a Grand Slam winner, including twice at Wimbledon where he ended a 77-year wait for a men’s champion
- Beating Novak Djokovic to win the 2012 US Open, his first Grand Slam title, in what was his fifth major final
- Winning two Olympic gold medals, once at Wimbledon and the other in the best match of the year in Brazil in 2016
- Winning the Davis Cup in 2015 (almost single-handed I might add)
- Ending 2016 as number one by beating Novak Djokovic at the World Tour finals in London
And all this in probably the finest ever era of men’s tennis, alongside the all time greats: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
He is also the only person to have won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award three times, so people who say he’s not popular with the public are way wide of the mark.
But it’s some of the intangibles as well, like turning himself from a relative weakling in 2005 – when he collapsed on court – into an absolute beast.
His championing of women’s tennis too, becoming the first top man to hire a female coach in Amelie Mauresmo.
Also, what about overcoming the trauma of having been at Dunblane on the day of the deadliest mass shooting in British history?
I could stop there, but to further shut the book on this case, here’s why he’s better than some other contenders:
Sure Lewis has won more ‘Major’ titles than Andy.
But he unquestionably drives a faster car then all his competitors bar Vettel.
Andy’s tennis racket, in comparison, doesn’t give him any advantage over the competition.
Sir Steven Redgrave
Five Olympic titles in a row is a superhuman achievement.
But rowing just isn’t as big a sport as tennis, so Steve had fewer people to prove himself against.
Plus Andy did all the heavy lifting himself, whereas Steve had the legendary Matthew Pinsent alongside him much of the time.
Sir Nick Faldo
Sir Nick won six majors, double Andy’s haul.
The competition wasn’t as fierce though, Greg Norman was his great rival and the Australian was a renowned choker with two Open wins to his name.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have won 51 Grand Slams between them.
Chris has won four Tour De France’s, but he’s yet to capture the public’s affection.
He’s never won the BBC Sports Personality award, which speaks volumes.
Plus Andy and Chris are both endurance animals, but Andy’s hand-eye skill sets him apart.
Sir Mo Farah
Mo is the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history.
He’s got the public appeal too, having trademarked the mobot.
His times don’t stand up to scrutiny though, he ranks just 16th all time in the 10,000 metres, and 31st in the 5000.
That drop goal is still a lip trembler for me.
But any man who has 14 team mates alongside him, including legends like Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio, can’t be considered.
Same goes for footballers like the great Bobby Moore.
My final thought
It’s abundantly clear having sifted through the evidence that Andy Murray is the greatest British sportsman of all time.
Clearly it’s a subjective decision, but I’m ok with that.
Andy, if you’re reading this: I love you.
And to everyone else… don’t @ me!