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Top 10 Sporting Comebacks

Simon Arms . . . Comments

Sport is drama in its rawest form. Unlike film or theatre, what happens is completely unplanned, often resulting in heroic acts that spring from real emotions and occasionally tragedy. The following top ten list of sporting comebacks aims to look at teams or individuals that through sheer will power, made the impossible a reality.

1. 1972 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic champion, Lasse Viren [Wikipedia]


In his first Olympics at the age of 23, Lasse Viren went into the 1972 10,000m final little more than a rank outsider. When he and Mohamed Gammoudi fell over halfway through the race, it was Gammoudi the 1968 Olympic Champion, who garnered the attention. Yet while Gammoudi dropped out two laps later, Viren had already caught up with the leading group and went on to win the gold in a world record 27:38:40. His achievement was crowned just ten days later when he added the 5000m title.

In 1976 Viren further proved himself by not only reclaiming both Olympic titles, but finishing fifth in the marathon only 18 hours after his 5000m triumph. Unfortunately his reputation has been tarnished, by accusations of blood doping. His detracters point to the fact that he achieved little of worth outside the Olympic games.

Show your retro team spirit with this awesome Michael Jordan Wings Poster at!

2. 1999 Open champion, Paul Lawrie [Wikipedia]

 41440787 Lawrie300

A few weeks before the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie it looked touch and go whether Paul Lawrie, the 1999 champion would qualify. Eventually he did, but the disrespect shown to him by the organisers was nothing short of disgraceful. No doubt, like every other Open champion, he should have received an invite to the tournament.

At Carnoustie eight years earlier he had started the final round ten shots behind the leader Jean Van de Velde. Okay Van de Velde self destructed, but coming back from that far on the last day was unprecedented in a major championship, and his final round of 67 in a tournament where the winning total was 6 over par was remarkable.

3. 2005 Champions League Final; Liverpool Vs AC Milan [BBC Sport]


Outplayed by a side more talented in every position, the Liverpool side left the pitch at half time trailing AC Milan 3 – 0.

The game could not have started worse for Liverpool. In the first minute veteran Milan defender Paulo Maldino scored from a corner. From there the Brazilian midfielder Kaka took control; releasing Shevchenko down the left to cross for Hernan Crespo for 2- 0, then playing Crespo through on goal for him to make it three.

An injury to Harry Kewell changed the game. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez had to reshape the midfield, adding defensive midfielder Dieter Hammann. Finally, Liverpool could tame Kaka and the likes of Steven Gerrard could push forward. The change in style so shocked Milan that in a remarkable 6 minutes, immediately after half time, Liverpool had scored three goals.

The match moved into extra time. In the last minute Shevchenko, the best striker in the world, forced Dudek to parry away his header, but the ball rebounded straight back to him and only two yards from goal, he looked certain to score. Somehow, Dudek flung himself across the goal to block the shot.

Seconds later, the whistle blew for full-time and the game moved into a penalty shoot-out. Dudek was again the hero, saving from Pirlo and Shevchenko for Liverpool to complete the unlikeliest of wins in the biggest club tournament in the world.

4. 2001 Wimbledon champion, Goran Ivaniševi? [Wikipedia]


“I have so many runner-up cups that I am thinking of starting my own tea shop”. Particularly galling to the Croat was his 3 Wimbledon runner up cups, a tournament that he was fully equipped to win. Ok, the two losses to Pete Sampras were understandable, but in his first final at Wimbledon against Andre Agassi, he had been the runaway favourite.

By the 2001 Wimbledon, Ivaniševi? was on the verge of retirement. Seeded outside the top 100 he needed a wild card to get into the tournament. Yet he defied many of his critics by reaching the semi-final, where he faced home favorite Tim Henman.

Goran took the first set of the match 7 – 5, but normal service resumed when Henman won the second, and then strolled to a 2 – 1 lead with a 6 – 0 win in the third. By this time Henman was playing outstanding tennis, and at the beginning of the fourth set he moved a break up. In fact Henman would of won if it wasn’t for the rain.

When they came back from a lengthy delay, Henman had lost his momentum and Ivaniševi? immediately broke back, winning the fourth set on a tie break. The fifth set was again interrupted by the weather, but Ivaniševi? again proved the stronger player, and won 6-3.

In an exciting Wimbledon final, Ivanisevic beat the number 2 seed Patrick Rafter in five sets to become the first wild card to win a grand slam.

5. 2004 800m and 1500m Olympic champion, Kelly Holmes [Wikipedia]


Only a Brit who follows track and field can really understand the full extent of Kelly Holmes achievement at the 2004 Olympics. For years the she had suffered injuries, and though she came into Athens injury free for the first time, she was 34 and coming off the back of the worst year in her career. After winning both the 1500m and 800m gold, she would admit to being diagnosed with clinical depression, taking to cutting herself when injured in 2003 while at the same time, if she wanted to continue to compete, unable to take medication. When commentator Steve Cram screamed “You’ve won it Kelly. You’ve won it!” it was in reference to Holmes looking around in complete disbelief.

6. Buffalo Bills Vs the Houston Oilers [Wikipedia]


This game is known as ‘the comeback’. With the Buffalo Bills 0 – 32 down they converted from a 4 – 3 to a 3 – 4 defence to contain the Oilers offensive passing and claw back the points, equalising with only 3 minutes left.

The game moved into overtime, but with the Oilers looking more likely to score, a stray pass was intercepted by the Buffalo defensive bac,k Nate Odomes. A foul tackle on Odomes took the Buffalos up to the 20 yard line and three plays later they scored the winning field goal.

The Buffalo Bills went on to compete in the Super Bowl.

7. Henri Cochet [Wikipedia]


Henri Cochet, one of the four musketeers of French tennis in the the 20’s, was part of one of the greatest tennis comebacks. What made the comeback even more special was that it was achieved in the Wimbledon semi-final.

Playing against the legendary American player Bill Tilden, Cochet was quickly 2 sets to 0 down and trailing 5 – 1 in the third. Suddenly deciding to go for broke, he came up with winner after winner to win 6 games in a row and then take the final two sets 6 – 4, 6 – 3.

This is not the whole story. Cochet had also comeback from two sets down in the quarter finals and did so again to win the title. But it is the victory against Tilden that will be remembered. Tilden was no. 1 in the world, and up to that point recognised as the best player the game had ever seen.

Get in the game! Learn to play tennis with Tennis Fundamentals at!

8. Manchester United and the Munich aircrash of 1958 [Wikipedia]


On February the 6th 1958, an aircraft carrying a Manchester United side searching for three English league titles in a row, crashed on take off killing 8 players. Among the dead were Duncan Edwards (tipped to be the next England captain, and even at 21 already one of the best players in the world), the prolific scorer both for United and England, Tommy Taylor, and the experienced England full back Roger Bryne. In fact 7 of the dead were first team players, and all of them had plenty of playing years ahead of them. Two other first team players sustained injuries, including the Northern Ireland international Jackie Blanchflower that forced them out of football. The Manchester United manager Matt Busby fell into a coma.

Yet only a few months later Manchester United were in the FA cup final. Bolton Wanderers defeated them 3 – 1, but the spirit that United showed was to be vital for the building process that occurred over the coming years.

Remarkably, Matt Busby was out of his coma and back managing the side in time for the start of the 1959 season, and in the next few years he went onto construct one of the best sides teams to compete in English football. In the sixties the ‘Busby Babes’ including Bobby Charlton, George Best, and Denis Law won the FA Cup and the league title twice. Ten years after the air crash in 1968, they won the European Cup.

9. 7 times Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong [Wikipedia]


Forget the drug allegations, American cyclist Lance Armstrong came back from testicular cancer that spread to his brain, lungs, and abdomen, to win 7 consecutive Tours de France – one of the most gruelling events in world sport. Enough said.

10. 1977 Formula One world champion, Nikki Lauda [Wikipedia]


Maybe the bravest comebacks of all. Heading for his second world championship, a rear suspension failure forced Lauda off the track. His Ferrari hit an embankment, rolled back, and collided with Brett Lunger’s Surtee’s Ford. Lauda’s car shot up in flames with Lauda trapped inside. Despite the efforts of the officials and his fellow drivers he could not be removed from the wreckage until he’d already suffered severe burns, and had inhaled huge amounts of toxic gas. Amazingly when they did get him out, he was able to walk away but he later collapsed into a coma.

Less than two months later Lauda was back racing. In his first race he managed a credible fourth, but had too much ground to make up in the world championship, and he lost it by one point. The following year he won the championship for the second time.

Contributor: Simon Arms

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  • mistere

    Nice list. Speaking of olympics, one person that could be added is Kerri Strug, after she landed the vault after spraining her ankle and won the gold. But I’m not so sure that would count as a comeback, more like an amazing feat. No pun intended lol.

  • some glaring omissions..

    – 1986 world series, game six: the NY Mets are 2 runs down to Boston, down to their last pitch before they are to be defeated. 3 singles, a wild pitch, and the craziest fielding error ever and the Mets end up winning.

    – Muhammad Ali – forced into retirement after refusing to be drafted to fight in Vietnam – Wins his Court Case and is allowed to resume his career 4 years later. Ali wins back his title by knocking out then champion george foreman in the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” bout.

    just two that came to mind. i’m sure if i thought about it longer some more examples might spring up.

  • Paddy Brunt

    One you missed (although understandably as it ended in tragic circumstances) is the Nigel Benn vs Gerald McLellan boxing match. Benn was knocked through the ropes in the first round and looked as though he would be lucky to last much longer. By the second round the WBC champion had turned the fight on it’s head and was dishing out some serious punishment to McLellan. By round four McLellan was breathing heavily with his gumshield hanging out of his mouth. In round six McLellan rallied and put Benn down again, but Benn showing super-human strength and courage finally won the fight with a stoppage in round 9. McLellan went back to his corner and collapsed. Today he is blind, hearing-impaired and physically disabled as a direct result of the injuries he sustained in that fight. Benn was was never the same boxer after the most brutal world title fight ever seen in Britain.

  • Thanks for the additions guys – they are much appreciated and all deserve to be included here.

  • Bob

    Steven Bradbury’s comeback in the 1000m short track in Salt Lake City win is beautiful, heres from wikipedia:

    In the quarterfinals, Bradbury thought himself eliminated. He finished third (only the top two advance), but Marc Gagnon was disqualified, thus allowing Bradbury to advance to the semifinals.

    In his semifinal, Bradbury was in last place, well off the pace of the medal favourites. However, three of the other competitors in the semifinal crashed into each other, leaving to him the second place and thus allowing him through to the final.

    Again well off the pace in the final, once again all four of Bradbury’s competitors (Apolo Ohno, Ahn Hyun-Soo, Li Jiajun and Mathieu Turcotte) crashed out at the final corner, leaving a shocked Bradbury to take the gold medal, the first for Australia or any Southern Hemisphere country in an Olympic Winter Games event (Alisa Camplin also won gold for Australia at the same Olympics).

    • Guy Incognitus

      That's not a comeback through determination, that's pure luck.

    • dearg

      There is a difference between genuine comeback and arse.

  • Bob: thanks for that comment. That seems less like a comeback than a lucky break to me though :)

  • Cool list but I would have included 2002 Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes :
    During the event, Hughes was in fourth going into the long program, and few people predicted she would win. But she landed seven triple jumps, including two triple-triple combinations, and narrowly won the event, edging out Russia’s Irina Slutskaya in a tie-breaker after Michelle Kwan faltered and fell to third place.

    Watch the video, it’s the most amazing Olympic figure skating event ever.

    and the November 17th 1968 “Heidi” game between the Raiders and Jets:

    With the Jets leading 32-29 with only 65 seconds left in the game, the Raiders quickly scored 14 points to win, 43-32. Meanwhile, millions of American television viewers were unable to see Oakland’s comeback. The NBC television network cut off the live broadcast in favor of a pre-scheduled airing of Heidi, a new made-for-TV version of the classic children’s story.

  • Jerry: haha that last one is funny.

  • Yeah I was even born yet but I’m a Raider fan. That would make a good entry in “Top 10 TV station goofs” as well.

  • Jerry – yes – it would – I will add that to my giant list of lists!

  • Monteze

    Maybe a sequel is in order…Sports list2 thought you knew comebacks. (done in a deep narrator voice.)

  • Scott

    what about the 2004 Boston Red Sox, down 3-0 against the New York Yankees in the ALCS, a best of 7 series, and they come back to win the series, and then the World Series 4 games to none agains the the St. Louis Cardinals. truly amazing

  • Monteze: from the feedback I think you are right – a second list is definitely in order.

    Scott: thanks for the comment – maybe it will appear in Sporting Comebacks version 2.0 :)

  • tjgrs

    ESPN actually calls the Sox comeback in 2004 the biggest upset in sports history

    • jdpoc

      Yeah, perhaps in US History. There’s a whole World of Sport there outside ESPN’s coverage area.

  • Alejandro Pareja

    In number 2 of the list it’s not too clear to some less informed readers which sport you’re talking about. Several other sports have Open championships other than golf.

  • Monteze

    Iam surprised that no one has mentioned the Texas christian and Minnesoda football game.It was one of the largest comebacks in collage football. Also it was a bowl game. ( texas won in the end)

  • Zack

    That is decidedly not a picture of the Bills/Oilers game. I watched that game live and I’m only 24…

    The Bills were down 28-3 at the half, and the Oilers scored quickly at the start of the second half to go up 35-3 before the Bills came back to win.

    All with their backup quarterback (Frank Reich) after their starter, the director of the No Huddle Offense Jim Kelly was injured a couple weeks earlier.

    Great list, but you gotta check that a bit more

  • Zack: thanks for pointing that out – I will fix that ASAP.

  • Tengriqut

    It seems that nobody remembers anymore Michael “Air” Jordan…

  • loonitic

    good liverpool rox

  • Orlando MAgic

    Do an upsets list

  • Orlando: that is a great idea.

  • Simon

    Sorry Zack. I don’t know anything about American football. I got all my information from wikipedia. I only included it because it was called ‘the comeback’ so I felt it should be on my list.

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  • Zack

    No problem, I really love the site. One of my favorite reads :-) Was just a very memorable game to someone who grew up in upstate NY (even if not a Bills fan)

    I Link to you guys often

  • Zack: excellent – thanks :)

  • cvtate

    Obviously this is a euro-centric list, and that’s fine, but #1 should absolutely be the 2004 Red Sox. Not only are they the only team in baseball history to come back from a 3 games to none deficit, they also hadn’t won a world series in something like 90 years prior to that year. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen in sports.

    Love the site!

  • cvtate: thanks for the addition of the Red Sox and for the compliment :)

  • simon

    Yeah well you’ve got to try and balance the American bias on the internet somehow. I tell you what if baseball ever comes as globally significant as most of the sports above then I will come out of retirement and write many more lists.

    The sad thing is I will look up the Red Sox comeback out of interest, yet I feel few people few will bother with my above suggestions. And thats all they are they are – suggestions.

  • Oldfield

    How about the 1972 summit series???? It’s the biggest comeback in canadian sports history eh!

  • melissa

    yep, gotta agree the big one missing is the 2004 Red Sox. biggest comeback in sports history, I think.

  • jack

    Did the red socks get cancer, almost burn alive or have over half their team die in an airplane crash.
    If no why do they deserve to be on this list so much.

    • Pumpkin

      Because they did amazing…. that was 8 years ago i was 7 and i still remember that night….

  • flower

    USA and India were playing a Hockey match. USA scored ONE goal against TWENTY-FOUR(24) of India’s goal! I am still confounded who and how scored that lonely goal(Almost feels like a comeback to me)!! And I heard of this Indycar racer who lost both his legs in a pile-up, but was back to racing there within months, WITH ARTIFICIAL LIMBS!!

  • Eric

    theres a couple that i would have added

    1. Doug Flutie’s hail mary in miami
    for those of you who dont know, Doug Flutie was a quarterback for boston colledge, who had to play the defending national champs in the orange bowl, with 6 seconds left on the clock boston colledge was down 45-41 with 48 yards to the end zone, Flutie threw a pass that scored the title winning touchdown.

    2. my second one is James Bradock beating Max Bare for the heavy weigth championship of the world

  • Sean the pyro

    That Indy car driver would be Alex (Allesandro) Zenardi. He raced in some touring car events using hand controls. Lauda definitely deserves to be on this list.

  • Tommy

    As great as it was to see Goran Ivanisevic finally put it all together to win his one and only Grand Slam title, I think Jennifer Capriati’s comeback was more dramatic, impressive, and unexpected. Starting out a child star, growing up under the spotlight, leaving the sport entirely amidst personal problems and conflicts, being arrested for theft and possession of marijuana. Who would have thought by looking at her mug shot in the 90s, that she would come back in 2001 and win 2 Grand Slam tournaments that year, claim the number one ranking, then win another Grand Slam the following year. Pretty inspirational stuff.

  • dave4248

    Since Lance Armstrong is on this list, I gather that you’re including comebacks from injury or other medical conditions. This begs the question, where’s Kerry Strug and Ben Hogan?

  • As a Buffalonian I thank you for including the Buffalo-Houston game, it was really the first thing I had thought of when I clicked on this list! Yay!

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  • jardojo

    Regie Miller scoring 9 points in 8 seconds against the Knicks was the most amazing thing Ive seen in the NBA. I don’t recall if it was an actual comeback though..

  • devilishgrin66

    No one is going to even mention Miracle?
    The USA team was a bunch of college amateurs, with an average age of I think 21. They were the creme of the crop of the college players that weren’t going into the NHL.
    The russian team was 4 time defending gold medalists, winning the 64 68 72 and 76 golds. They were the favorites to win a fifth and no team could even lay a finger to them.

    A week before the olympic games, the russians and USA play an exhibition match at madison square garden. The Soviets flatten the americans 10-3, although it could just as easily have been 30-3.

    Not much later, the Russians and Americans meet up again in the semifinals. The Russians put the first goal on the board quickly but the Americans score not much later. The soviets score another goal towards the end of the period and it looked like the game would be a goal apart going into the next period but the Americans scored a last second goal to tie the game.
    In the second period the russians scored giving them a 3-2 lead. The Americans tied it back up and then in the 3rd pulled ahead by one and held on to the end. Best comeback ever…there has never been such a gap in skill/age/talent etc between two teams in a game.

  • t_man

    And the sad thing about the Bills is that they lost four Super Bowls in a row. Two to the Cowboys, and one each to the Giants and Redskins. *sigh*

  • mitchsn

    The Red Sox comeback from 0-3 to win a best of 7 series is a glaring omission.

    Also missing from this is Michael Changs victory over Ivan Lendl in the 1989 French Open. While suffering from near debilitating leg cramps, he fought back with underhand serves and setting up well inside the baseline.

  • travis

    Dachou you are a dick. Alot of this so called anti-americanism is because too many of you aren’t happy unless every entry is American. That’s annoying and not a little ignorant of other peoples cultures. You go about the Miracle on Ice, but how about the Czechs beating the USSR in 1972 only 4 years after their short revolution had been brutally oppressed by the Soviets. The French overturning the New Zealand, the best side in the world, in the 1999 world cup semi when they had been 24-10 down.

  • Anya

    Not sure if it would count as a comeback in the strictest definition of the word, but one of my all-time favorite sports stories is Dan Jansen’s eventual gold medal win.

  • Pete

    What about the 1999 Champions League Final between Bayern Munich and Manchester United. Bayern scored after 6 minutes to take a 1-0 lead into the break. In the second half Bayern hit the post twice and the crossbar once. At the end of the 90 minutes of play it was still 1-0 to Bayern and there was to be 3 mins of added time. 90 seconds into added time United were awarded a corner from which Teddy Sherringham scored to make it 1-1. One minute later United are awarded another corner and this time it is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who sticks his foot out to divert a Sherringham header past the Bayern keeper to make it 2-1 to United and victory in Europe

  • luckyaz

    i think you should add the 2007 washington redskins
    when safety sean taylor passed away from a gunshot wound, the team had almost no chance to make the playoffs, but the team went on a winning streak and barely made the final nfc playoff spot. as a team, coping with a teammate’s death is hard enough, but the whole team banding together to make the playoffs in taylor’s name, is just remarkable. just my opinion though.

  • Aussie Dave

    I think John Landy should be in here… Yes, he is Australian so I’m biased, but in the 1956 Australian National Championships, in the 1500m final, Landy stopped and turned around to help Ron Clarke to his feet after he had been accidently tripped by another runner. In the last couple of laps Landy came from nowhere to win the race – amazing comeback combined with great sportsmanship.

  • Steven

    For some reason, I just KNEW the Oilers/Bills game would be mentioned. I grew up an Oilers fan(Go Texans dammit!), I despise the Bills because of this one game. Well, at least Houston sports gets mentioned somewhere OUTSIDE of Texas(assuming you ARE located outside of Texas…). We get no respect. :(

  • Walter

    Look into the University of Miami and University of florida 2003 season opener. with the canes down 33-10 late into the game, it took a lot of miraculous feats to beat the gaytors (im obviously biased) 38-33! this was the game that turned me into a football fan.

  • devilishgrin66

    travis – the czechs were a pretty good team in ice hockey regardless of what was going on in the world. The US was a bunch of amateurs due to their rules against using professional players. The average age of the US team was 21. Mikhailov, the captain of the USSR team and Tretiak were considered some of the best players in the world, if not the best. they also had extremely high level players such as kharlamov, myshkhin, krutov, and makarov. And the brilliant coach tikhonov. The USSR team beat an NHL all stars team 6-0 that year. The US team made it to the finals in pretty good fashion but the USSR steamrolled..Japan 16-0, the netherlands 17-4, and Poland 8-1. Even the shots for the miracle game were lopsided, 39 by the soviets and 16 by the US.

    This game has been voted #1 everything by just about everyone…#1 sports moment by ESPN, #1 headline, Best game of the 1979-2004 period, the entire team was the AP’s male athlete of the year, #1 upset by ESPN.

    No game is more famous, more memorable, or more of a comeback than this. It is basically the equivalent of the NE Patriots, pre-super bowl 08, being beaten by a Division 1 college team.

  • travis

    The what Patriots?

  • devilishgrin66

    NE = New England

  • SmartAlec

    What about the Boston Red Sox in 2004 when they were behind the Yankees by 3 games in the ALCS and then won 4 games in a row to go to the world series and then win it. It was the first time in MLB history when that happened

  • unca

    If it weren’t for the fact that the sport of rapid fire pistol shooting is relatively obscure, the feat of Karoly Takacs could arguably top the list. In 1938, he was recognized as the top shooter in the world and was looking forward to the 1940 olympics when during an army training excercise, a grenade exploded and mutilated his right hand (his shooting hand). As it turns out, the Olympics of 1940 and 1944 were never held because of WWII. However, in 1948, Takacs achieved the unthinkable by winning the gold medal in pistol shooting after teaching himself to shoot with his left hand! He won again in 1952. Amazing.

  • trojan_man

    The UK Wildcats were down 31 points (at LSU) with 16 minutes left and came back to win the game. Plus, basketball is an international sport that most, if not all, understand. This could have easily made the top ten.

  • Eoin

    In fairness, Liverpool had Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, who are better than some of the Milan players.

  • Clantargh

    2004 ALCS, The Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-0 game deficit including a horrendous 19-8 game 3 disaster to do something never before done in baseball and win 4 straight must win games, then to top it off they swept the World Series for their first victory in it in 86 years.

  • rushfan

    Boston Celtics Comeback: ’02 NBA East Finals Game 3

  • MPW

    the redsox in 04 sheesh

  • Fromthefuture

    2008 Superbowl Colts vs Patriots !!!!!

  • rushfan

    who wins?? do tell. :)

  • k1w1taxi

    Further to the Niki Lauda comeback he could have won the World Championship in 1976 (The year of the accident) but at the final race in Japan he refused to race in the monsoon conditions stating that the title wasn’t worth THAT much. Lost the title by IIRC 1 point.

    Incidentally he retired after the 1978 season, sorry during (stepped out of his car during practice for US GP and quit on the spot). Coaxed out of retirement by McLaren in 1981 he won his third world title in 1984 (by 1/2 point).

    Nurburgring was also the site of two of the greatest comebacks in individual races.
    1935 Tazio Nuvolari in German GP when his Alfa Romeo beat the might of the Germans despite losing an extra minute plus at his pit stop. How big a surprise was it? Nuvolari had to supply his own record of the Italian National Anthem for the victory celebration.

    1957. Juan Manuel Fangio’s greatest victory. Similar story to Nuvolari. Fangio Destroyed the lap record in his chase of Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn.

    Re: Boxing George Foreman regaining title.
    Re; The Miracle Quote:No game is more famous, more memorable, or more of a comeback than this. Unquote

    Never heard of it til this thread, But then I’m not American (or Russian). Have heard of most of the other non US comebacks.

    re: Man U 1999 The Champions League was not the only great comeback that year. Arsenal had them dead and buried in the FA Cup semi too, or some they thought.


  • arm305

    How about the 2005 NCAA Basketball Elite Eight game (Arizona vs. Illinois): Arizona builds a 15 point lead with 4 minutes left in the game, then Illinois heats up, draining shot after constested-shot, tying it up with seconds left in regulation. Illinois would win in OT by 1 and move on to the Final Four.

  • arm305

    Or, since I’m from Miami, the 2006 NBA Finals? Dwyane Wade carries our heat to a championship. (And don’t tell me about the officiating. IMHO, they finally got the calls RIGHT for once. No that’s not bias talking.)

  • Vera Lynn

    Scott (12) That was the first thing i thought of. It has been mentioned many times here, but you were the first.

    Devilishgrin (39) I have that moment on tape (not the movie- the actual event). Sends chills up my spine every time I watch it, Amazing!

  • coolkittie

    I’m surprised no one has said anything about the 2008 Olympics yet. Micheal Phelps and his comeback to win by a fingernail… The gymnastics comeback in the all around… maybe the newest list should be the greatest comebacks in Olympic history… much debate on that one! Oh, and I almost forgot the comeback during the mens swimming 400 relay that gave Phelps his second gold of the games… Lezak was AWESOME

  • Justin

    From the Future: FYI it is impossible for the Super Bowl to be between the Patriots and Colts as they are both AFC teams (the Super Bowl is between the AFC champion and NFC champion).

    The score of the Bills/Oilers games was actually 35-3 when the Bills came back to win 41-38 in OT. The Oilers were the ones who had to comeback to force OT and tie the game at 38.

    Everything about that comeback was amazing. This was a Wild Card playoff and the two teams had met in Houston the week before where Houston won 27-3. This loss prevented the Bills from winning the division and clinching home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs (although they didn’t need it, since they still won the AFC that year). The Bills were without Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, and they started the second half by having an interception returned for a touchdown (making the score 35-3). At the time, Frank Reich had also led the greatest comeback in college football history (that has recently been bested by Michigan State in 2006).

  • Justin

    And I’m not sure what the picture is exactly under the Bills/Oilers game, but it looks like the ol’ Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs) taking on the Houston Oilers. Could I be right in guess that this was the 1962 AFL championship game, in which Dallas won 20-17 in OT?

  • Ren

    From the future: the 2008 Superbowl was between the Patriots and the Giants. I am a Patriots fan and was very upset. I’m watching the first game of the season right now.

  • Justin

    Ren, the 2008 Super Bowl will be played this season, since football seasons are tracked by one year rather than two like in basketball and hockey. This football season will be considered the 2008 NFL season, and so Super Bowl XLIII will be attached to it. It may be played in 2009, but it is NOT the 2009 Super Bowl.

  • Ren

    Justin: Thanks for correcting me, I always got confused about that.

  • matty b

    The liverpool victory in ’05 is well deserved at no.3. I remember being in tears at halftime. the game was over.

    Milan were the best defensive team possibly ever and had so many expierienced players (cafu, maldini, nesta, pirlo).

    I heard stories of the odd liverpool fan leaving the stadium and going back to their hotel. I dont think people realise just how impossible the task seemed. But 6 minutes of madness left the world stunned and me and some friends jumping all over the street!

    The reds have went on to gain a reputation as ‘comeback’ kings which they say is mainl due to their diehard fans who are seen as a 12th man.

  • Andy_Dee

    hey mate what about Essendon’s come back in 2004 where they were 69 points down at half time (11 goals) and came back and won by 4 goals. It is the greatest come back in AFL histroy and it beats some of the things you have put in this list. Unless if you are not from Australia and have not heard of AFL before then it should be the only reason why it isn’t on your list mate

  • Steph

    Boston Red Sox and Phillies.

  • Steve_P

    One of my favourite comebacks (as a biased hockey fan), is the Miracle on Manchester. Greatest third period comeback in NHL playoff history i think. The L.A. Kings down 5-0 to the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers (Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, Fuhr, etc.) Edmonton was expected to win the cup rather easily that year but L.A. came back to score 5 goals in the third period and then the winner in overtime and then go on to win the series.

    I also believe it was one of the biggest upsets in NHL history as the regular season point difference between the 2 teams was so high.

  • mamadu

    we should never forget one of the greatest come backs of football , the European cup final real Madrid v Benfica, after being behind by 2 goals Benfica won the final beating real Madrid by 5-3!

  • homer simpson

    ummmmm 2004 RED SOX….HELLO!

  • Aaron Hurricane Bouchard

    George Forman had a good comeback

  • ingerson

    A further European reference for me would be Denmark going on to win the 1992 football European Championship, after not initially qualifying, but got through when Yugoslavia were forced to withdraw. Similarities can be drawn with Goran Ivanisevic winning Wimbledon with a wild card.

  • jeremy


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  • Jared

    Take things to south africa…more like an incredible feat than a comeback though. 1994 Nelson Mandela leads the ANC to victory changing the leading party of the country which results in international sporting sanctions being lifted after apartheid and a year later south africa plays in its first rugby world cup and wins by defeating the all blacks 15-12 in the final. An amazing feat where they had beaten the top sides in the world including australia, france and new zealand!!!!

  • Jared

    In cricket, austraia breaking all records to score over 400 runs in a one day international against south africa. Poised to take the game with relative ease australia is actually defeated by sa – incredible to witness such great innings twice in one match.

  • D

    ya Jared good point. why no mention of that? thats probably one of the most amazing sporting feats in history… twice in 2 consecutive innings 1 world record broken 2 times!!! amazing

  • ben

    no love for the 2004 red sox, they’re playoff comeback is my vote for the best sports comeback

  • bamxmike

    Gotta say, I was really disappointed in this list.

  • cherylandjon

    how could you omit Seabiscuit and jocky Red Pollard ?that final race was a comeback for the ages-one of the greatest moments in sports history.

  • cherylandjon

    Oh Yeah and being a Boston native The Red Sox winning the world series on 2004 such a great moment in sports history,then to win again in 2007,I still can’t beleive it sometimes ;)

  • reddevils

    MU vs Bayern Muenchen – 1999 european champions league final… the greatest comeback off all time..

    The goal was timed at 92:17. Clive Tyldesley from ITV commentary on Solskjær’s goal:
    “Is this their moment? Beckham… into Sheringham… and Solskjær has won it!”
    Tyldesley again followed this with the exclamation,
    “Manchester United have reached the Promised Land.”

    simply amazing… glory glory man united

  • Some small stories deserve citation in this list too..
    1. Michael Jordan’s comeback out of retirement using the Wizards’ jersey made him the oldest player in the NBA to score above 40 points in a game..
    2. Kim Clijster’s US Open win last year made her the first mother to win a grandlam titl in many years..
    3. Though not lucky as Kim, Justin Henin retired 24 months ago while being ATP’s Top Ranked Netter, only to wow the spectators when she reached the Finals of the Australian Open and lose to the current World’s Number 1, Serena Williams..
    4. What about the Vancouver 2010 golden goal of Sidney Crosby to make the Canadians “Own The Podium” program literally owning the podium? Boy, that’s the best hockey game I’ve seen in 20 years.. It’s a total revenge to the Americans when they beat the Canucks in the gold medal game of the World Juniors Championships..

  • Noah

    Toronto Maple Leafs come back from being down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup finals best of 7 series against the Detroit Red Wings and win the cup in 7 games

    on of only 2 teams in pro sports history to come back from being down 3 games in a best of 7 series, and the only team ever to do it in the finals

  • kidnic

    True story: I was playing this Japanese guy named Tabuchi backgammon all summer while following the PBA tour around America when I was 15. For the majority of the games we played for $64 a game, 6-10 games a day. At the end of one particular game the only possibility for Tabuchi to win and me to lose would be for him to roll double 6’s and me roll ace-duece… 3 times in a row. It happened! In the world of backgammon I have deemed the unlikeliest of play a “Tabuchi” Great list. The runner who helped up a fallen man, in my opinion, is the epotime of character.

  • bart

    i think maybe you there should be a separate list for every major sport, i mean i don’t know about american football, or baseball, (althouth any 0-3 comeback is amazing, basketball has none). i think that first jordan comeback should be here. or maybe the subject should be more specific – games/rivalries that seemed lost, injuries comeback, unpredictable results and so on

  • Jdpoc

    For your updated list (seeing as you’re including comebacks from injury) how about a DOUBLE comeback??

    You MUST include Bob Champion (jockey) on Aldaniti (gelding) winning Britains famouse Grand National Steeplechase in 1981 – A jockey recovering from cancer, on a horse that had previously been so badly injured he should have been shot.
    Aldaniti was so cool he even went on to play ‘himself’ in the movie!

    Another possible DOUBLE – EUFA Champions League (that’s soccer, guys) 1999, Manchester United came back from 1-0 down — IN INJURY TIME!! — to win 2-1, two minutes later. But also note that both Uniteds 2 goals were scored by two old subs, both coming back from injury and on the verge of retirement – Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

    BTW, Boston’s 2004 baseball comeback was good, but not for the lofty heights of this list even when compared to Mets 86! (Bill Buckner won’t read this, will he?)

    • sarah

      How does an error by a usually gold-glove caliber first basemen beat two consecutive walk off wins against the winningest franchise in all of professional sports again?

      • John O’Connell

        Mets ’86 should be on this list NOT because of Buckners error, (Golden Glove’r, like you say) but because of second half of the game from 7th innings onwards. I still think Bob Champion and Aldaniti should top the list – how many other entries here had movies made of them?

        Oh, yeah, ‘Seabiscuit’.

        Any others?

  • Guy Incognitus

    Not well know outside of Canada is Olympic Rower Silken Laumann. Before the 1992 Olympics (for which she was a Gold Medal favourite) she was seriously injured in training when a German rower collided with her, nearly severing her leg. In her words, "I looked at the leg for a few seconds and knew it was serious when my muscle was hanging at my ankle and I could see the bone". After 5 operations to repair the leg and 3 weeks in hospital she managed to capture a bronze medal just 2 months after suffering the horrific injury.

  • Sami

    Lance Armstrong is a lying cheat and a dope head. He should not be on the list at all.

  • Dan

    I LOVE your website, first of all.
    But, I think it bears mentioning that some of your lists are rather sloppy. Pictures don't match, no dates are given, details are sparse. It seems like some of these lists are "rushed" through. This is one of them.

  • Nick


  • Rookie

    Stanford vs. Cal

  • sarah

    2004 ALCS anybody?

  • K

    Umm 2004 Red Sox?!!! Should at least have made the list!! Almost 100 years no wins, then BAM! unexpected … ——— Us Red Sox fans are HARDCORE!– not to mention People cant even begin to imagine the rivalry with the Yankees– you can lit be killed in Boston being a Yankee fan.

  • kim sheen

    What about Mika Hakkinen – if your gonna call Niki Lauda’s the bravest of all, Hakkinen’s must be in there too – he was even MORE severly injured than Lauda (fractured skull and heart stopped 3 times in his 199 crash in Australia) yet he came back to F1 to win 2 world championships – that’s the number 1 comeback of all time in my book!

  • jam tangan

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  • Ill

    Didn’t read every comment, but number 6, about 3/4s down the section, has a typo. Should be back not bac,k.

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