Sports

Year-Ender 2023: Legends Never Fade - Remembering Sporting Icons Who Died This Year

As the year 2023 draws to a close, the sports world mourns the demise of the athletes who breathed their last this year. Here are the obituaries of some legendary sportspersons in this year-ender

Bishan Singh Bedi died at the age of 77.
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There were many highs and lows in the sporting world in the year 2023. We saw many young players gaining accolades and veterans retiring from their respective sports. But, this year also bid farewell to remarkable individuals whose athletic prowess left an indelible mark on the global stage. As we reflect on their lives and contributions, we pay homage to the athletes who graced arenas and fields, captivating audiences with their skill, passion, and unwavering dedication. From the triumphant cheers of victory to the echoes of camaraderie, these departed sportspersons enriched the tapestry of athletic history. (Cricket News | Football News)

In this year-ender, we remember their achievements, the iconic moments that defined their careers, and the legacy they leave behind. Each name etched in this solemn tribute represents a chapter in the chronicles of sport, reminding us of the profound impact these individuals had on the world of competition and the hearts of fans across the globe.

Luis Suarez (Died: 9th July 2023)

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Former Spanish football great Luis Suarez X/@footballespana_

Luis Suarez, the iconic footballer who graced the fields of Barcelona, Spain, and Internazionale in Milan passed away at the age of 88 in July 2023. Regarded as the complete inside-forward of the 1950s and 60s, Suárez's blend of power, skill, stamina, and vision left an indelible mark on the sport. He was the driving force behind Spain's triumph in the 1964 European Championship and achieved European Cup glory with Internazionale in 1964 and 1965. Suárez, with his slicked-back dark hair and elusive body swerve, amassed over 100 career goals, showcasing a devastating right foot. Always more of a creator than a marksman, his laudable consistency spanned two decades, making him one of Spain's greatest-ever players. His legacy lives on in the annals of football history.

Trevor Francis (Died: 24th July 2023)

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Former English football player Trevor Francis in his young days X/@England

Trevor Francis, the iconic figure in English football, passed away at 69 from a heart attack. A luminary forward in the 1970s and 80s, Francis left an indelible mark by securing back-to-back European Cups with Nottingham Forest as Britain's first £1m player. His talents extended beyond scoring, showcasing remarkable skill and agility. Success followed with stints at Sampdoria in Italy and Rangers in Scotland. As manager of Sheffield Wednesday in the early '90s, he guided the club to two cup finals and a commendable third place in the final season of the old First Division. Francis capped 52 times for England, displayed versatility, often resembling an attacking midfielder with his pace, passing finesse, and adept crossing. Despite early fame, he remained universally admired for his easygoing nature and humble approachability. The football community mourned the loss of a true legend.

Mohammed Habib  (Died: 15th August 2023)

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File photo of Mohammed Habib. AIFF

Mohammed Habib, the iconic former captain of the Indian football team, passed away, leaving an indelible mark on the sport. From 1965 to 1976, he graced international tournaments, earning praise as one of India's finest footballers. Habib's crowning achievement was the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, where he clinched a bronze medal under the leadership of Syed Nayeemuddin and the guidance of manager P.K. Banerjee. During his decade-long stint with the national team, he contributed significantly to victories in the Merdeka Tournament and the Pesta Sukan Cup. Notably, in 1977, Habib showcased his skills for Mohun Bagan against Cosmos Club, sharing the field with the legendary Pele in a friendly match. His 17-season tenure in Kolkata's football scene showcased his unwavering commitment and skill. Beyond his playing days, Habib played a pivotal role in shaping the Tata Football Academy, embodying sincerity, passion, and professionalism. In his demise, Indian football bids farewell to a true legend.

Bray Wyatt  (Died: 24th Aug 2023)

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Bray Wyatt X

Windham Rotunda, revered in the wrestling realm as Bray Wyatt, passed away at the age of just 36. Carrying on the wrestling legacy of his father and uncle, Rotunda, between 2012 and 2021, embodied Bray Wyatt, a malevolent cult leader, and later transformed into “The Fiend,” a mesmerizing demon clown. His eerie entrances, shrouded in darkness, featured crowds illuminating arenas with phone torches to the haunting notes of “Shatter” by Code Orange. Known for the Mandible Claw and Sister Abigail moves, he clinched the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Championship in 2017. Despite his 2021 release, he returned in 2022, competing at the Royal Rumble. Beyond the ring, Rotunda revealed a contrasting, compassionate side, sharing moments of familial joy. His departure leaves a void in the wrestling world, where his theatrical presence and unique character will be remembered.

Heath Streak (Died: 3rd Sept 2023)

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Former Zimbabwe skipper Heath Streak X

Heath Streak, Zimbabwe's cricket luminary, has passed away at 49 after bravely battling cancer. Revered as arguably his nation's finest bowler, he etched his legacy as Zimbabwe's leading wicket-taker in both Test and one-day international cricket. Amidst the political turbulence of his playing era, Streak anchored Zimbabwe's cricket success. Victorious moments included back-to-back wins over India and Pakistan in 1998. Steering the team in 1999, he propelled Zimbabwe to the Super Six phase in the World Cup. Appointed captain in 2000, he faced challenges, notably in Test matches. Beyond his stellar playing career, Streak contributed to the cricket world through coaching roles with Scotland, Somerset, and the Indian Premier League. Unfortunately, his cricket journey concluded on a somber note in 2021 with an eight-year ban from the ICC due to corruption charges. Streak's indomitable spirit endured, even in the face of a poignant cancer diagnosis in May 2023. His legacy resonates in Zimbabwean cricket history.

Piloo Reporter (Died: 3rd Sept 2023)

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Piloo Reporter File image

Piloo Reporter, a trailblazing figure in international cricket officiating, passed away in Mumbai at 84. Succumbing to cerebral contusions after an extended period of bedridden illness, Reporter was renowned for his animated boundary signals. He umpired in 14 Tests and 22 ODIs, including the 1992 World Cup. However, his defining moment occurred in November 1986, partnering with VK Ramaswamy as the first pair of neutral umpires in the historic Lahore Test between Pakistan and West Indies. This groundbreaking move, championed by Pakistan's Imran Khan, aimed to counter biased home umpiring perceptions. Reporter's umpiring journey commenced in 1984 during England's tour of India. His legacy extends beyond the field, influencing the ICC's formalization of neutral umpires in international cricket. Piloo Reporter's impactful contributions to the game will be remembered fondly by players and fans worldwide.

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Bobby Charlton (Died: 21st Oct 2023)

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File image of Bobby Charlton in his playing days. X/David de Gea

Sir Bobby Charlton, the legendary English footballer, has passed away at the age of 86. Renowned as one of England's greatest footballers, Charlton left an indelible mark on the sport. As the only English player to achieve victories in the FA Cup, Football League, European Cup with Manchester United, and the World Cup with England, he embodied a golden era in English football. Captain of the historic 1968 Manchester United team that won the European Cup, and a pivotal member of the 1966 World Cup-winning squad, Charlton's legacy extends beyond accolades. His on-field prowess, marked by raking passes and powerful long-range shots, contributed to his status as United's all-time leading scorer until 2017. Yet, it was Charlton's modesty and gentlemanly demeanor that endeared him globally. In the wake of the 1958 Munich air disaster, he faced tragedy with resilience, further showcasing his character. Sir Bobby Charlton's impact transcends statistics, making him an enduring icon in the hearts of football enthusiasts worldwide.

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Bishan Singh Bedi (Died: 23rd Oct 2023)

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In this file photo, former Indian captain and legendary spinner Bishan Singh Bedi at a press conference, in New Delhi. Bedi died on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, at the age of 77. Photo: AP/Subhav Shukla

Bishan Singh Bedi, the iconic Indian spin maestro, passed away at 77, leaving an indelible mark on cricket's golden era. With his distinctive 'Patkas' and graceful bowling action, Bedi mesmerised fans worldwide during the 1960s and 70s. A virtuoso left-arm spinner, he notched 266 wickets in 67 Tests, standing as India's leading wicket-taker upon retirement. Bedi's artistry, coupled with a formidable quartet of spinners (namely Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar), contributed to 853 wickets during an era when slow bowling dominated Indian cricket. As India's captain in 22 matches, he earned a reputation for controversy and steering the team to six victories and 11 draws. Bedi's domestic success with Northern Punjab and Delhi, along with a pivotal role at Northamptonshire, culminated in 1,560 wickets in first-class cricket, a testament to his enduring legacy in the sport.

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