Leicester’s achievement of winning the Premier League title is one of the most unlikely of sporting feats and stands in comparison with some of the greatest upsets in sports history.
The prospect of Leicester being champion was something few predicted a year ago when the team was scrapping to avoid relegation from the Premier League. Leicester’s previous best finish in England’s top soccer league was second in 1928-29.
At the start of this season, some bookmakers offered odds of 5000-1 on Leicester winning the title. Here’s a look back at some other memorable sporting surprises:
1. Greece at Euro 2004
Greece’s previous appearance at a major soccer tournament, the 1994 World Cup in the United States, ended horribly. The team returned home after losing all three games, scoring no goals and conceding 10. But none of its opponents at the 2004 European Championship proved capable of breaking Greece down. The Greeks won their three knockout matches, including the final against host Portugal, by the same scoreline, 1-0, playing a defensive and counter-attacking style that coach Otto Rehhagel had instilled in his team.
2. Becker’s Wimbledon Win
In 1985 at Wimbledon, Boris Becker won his first title at the All England Club. At 17 years and 227 days, he became the youngest Grand Slam champion. He was even younger than the Wimbledon junior champion that year. Becker was also the first German to win Wimbledon and the first unseeded player to lift the trophy. Overall, Becker made the Wimbledon final seven times, winning three.
3. Soviet Union’s Basketball Victory Over USA
One of the great rivalries in sports also delivered some huge shocks. In 1972, the Soviet Union basketball team beat the Americans in the gold medal game at the Munich Olympics. There was controversy at the end and allegations of cheating, but the result meant the United States men’s basketball team lost for the first time at the Olympics. Eight years later in Lake Placid, the U.S. hockey team won the gold medal, beating the seemingly invincible Soviets in the final group stage in the “The Miracle On Ice.”
4. Buster KO’s Tyson
Few gave James “Buster” Douglas a chance when he flew to Tokyo in 1990 to take on Mike Tyson, one of the most dominant world heavyweight champions in history. Yet Douglas was in no mood to join the list of those felled by Tyson, and eventually won in the 10th round with a knockout. Douglas’ reign didn’t last long, losing later that year to Evander Holyfield. And although Tyson did become world champion again, he was never quite the same.
5. Rugby’s Big Shock
Japan was rated 1,000-1 to win last year’s Rugby World Cup. It’s only win in tournament history was in 1991. The opener was against South Africa, the two-time champion the Japanese had never previously met. Then they went toe-to-toe with the Springboks, who led into injury time. The Japanese turned down a potential tying penalty kick, and went for a try. They pulled it off, and the biggest shock in rugby history.