There are sporting heroes all over the world. Some have been at the top of their game their whole careers, while others have had to fight back. We look into three of the greatest individual sporting comebacks of our generation.


Football: Joe Thompson

Arguably the most underrated footballing comeback has to be Rochdale's Joe Thompson. The former Manchester United youth player was diagnosed with cancer, not once, but twice.

After returning from defeating cancer for a second time in December 2017, the 29-year-old went on to score the goal which saw his side avoid relegation from League One in 2018.

Even more amazing, the day he kept his beloved Rochdale in League One, was just 336 days since his stem cell transplant began. Not only did he manage to become a local hero, he also managed to fulfil his life ambition and play at Wembley.

Rochdale drew Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup, which was a touching moment for Thompson and his family when he entered the pitch as a second-half substitute.

The midfielder, who made over 200 appearances for Rochdale, chose to retire in February 2019, after admitting he had given everything to the beautiful game.

Speaking to the media on his retirement, Thompson said: "I feel my story has the power to help others in all walks of life to overcome their own adversities and empower them to fulfil their potential."

Thompson may not have reached the heights of the Premier League and been known worldwide, but his story is a powerful one and has touched everyone in not just Rochdale, but the Football League.


Boxing: Tyson Fury

Another sporting hero has to be Tyson Fury and his astonishing comeback after dealing with a number of mental health issues.

Fury stunned Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015 to become the heavyweight champion of the world, but this ultimately saw the Gypsy King sink into a dark place.

After the fight, Fury hit rock bottom. He even announced he would never fight again, as he fell into a deep depression. After calling off a rematch and failing two drug tests, Fury gave up his belts and his boxing license was suspended in October 2016.

As the six-foot-nine man mountain's life began to spiral out of control, he turned to food, drink and drugs. His friends leaked to the media that it was not "uncommon" for the former heavyweight champion to knock back at least 18 pints in an evening.

Fury admitted he had thought about suicide, and almost attempted it. He admitted to nearly driving his Ferrari off a bridge when he was at his lowest point.

"There comes a point where it gets out of hand, and you don't realise it's gotten out of hand until it's gone too far. You think you can just walk away at any time, but you really can't."

After a trip away to Spain to see Billy Joe Saunders, Tyson said he returned home and turned to his faith to seek guidance.

Unhealthy and weighing over 400 pounds, Fury had enough of the life he had chosen to live. He deleted social media and started concentrating on himself, starting with evening walks and writing an autobiography.

Fury went back to step one. He began training, diet and started to turn himself back into the heavyweight champion he once was.

In just over 12 months time, Tyson Fury was stepping back into the ring against the undefeated Deontay Wilder. It is, quite frankly, a miracle that Fury was able to turn himself around in such a short period of time.

Sadly, Fury wasn't able to win back his belt, despite lasting all twelve rounds. He was knocked down, not once, but twice, but was able to get up on both occasions, much to the surprise of Wilder and everyone watching on.

Despite the defeat, there was a happy ending. Tyson Fury had come from the brink, to stepping back into the ring and completely turning his life around.

There's still plenty of debate that Fury is the best heavyweight boxer in the world currently. Of course, he has never faced current heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who faces Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York next month.

Fury had a message for his fans after the Wilder fight, saying: "If I can come back from what I've been through then you can do it top."

His comeback has got to go down as one of the greatest within not just boxing, but sport as a whole.


Golf: Tiger Woods

Another more recent comeback that everyone has been talking about involves a certain Tiger Woods. His story is somewhat similar to Fury's, but it is one certainly not to look over.

Woods certainly had his doubters, heading to the Masters this year as an outsider, despite his form being solid throughout 2018. He had however, gone eleven years since he had last won a major. During this period, Woods was struggling with life.

Before his Masters success, there was a time when we were very much expecting Tiger Woods to retire, never mind putting on the green jacket for a fifth time.

Four back operations forced Woods into depression, who could barely pick his ball up from the green, let alone think about playing 18 holes.

Woods hasn't always been on his best behaviour off the course, and was treated for sex addiction after multiple affairs while married.

His life had spiralled out of control, as did the man himself twice behind the wheel. It seemed more likely Woods was going to spend years in a cell, not spending the last years of his career on a golf course.

This is what makes his comeback even more wonderful. Woods stepped up at Augusta and beat the best golfers in the world, and, in the end, with relative ease.

As soon as Tiger built up a two-shot lead on the back nine, no one was catching him. He looked like a man possessed, only this time, desperate to succeed and prove all the doubters wrong.

To many current golfers, Tiger Woods had been an idol growing up and to see him sink that putt on the 18th hole, there was barely a dry eye in the whole of Augusta.

In 2018, Tiger said: "Coming back and playing golf was never in my thoughts. It was just, how do I get away from this pain? How can I live life to the full again? I felt like I couldn't participate in my own life."

From feeling like this, to walking around Augusta as if he owned the place, this was much more than just winning a golf tournament. The world's greatest golfer had hit rock bottom and was able to come back and show the world why all golf fans still love him to this day.

Tiger Woods is the current favourite at 9/1 to win the 2020 US Masters, with bookies clearly not wanting to take any risks with the man in hot form.

All three sports stars come from entirely different backgrounds, but each one showed the mental strength to come back and perform at the top level of their respective sports.

Each and every one of them have shown inspiration, courage and strength to fellow competitors and fans.

*Credit for the main photo belongs to...


FIRST PUBLISHED: 27th May 2019

The 888sport blog, based at 888 Towers in the heart of London, employs an army of betting and tipping experts for your daily punting pleasure, as well as an irreverent, and occasionally opinionated, look at the absolute madness that is the world of sport.