From Super League fallout to Olympic delight, the quotes of 2021

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Sport’s biggest stars gave us plenty of memorable soundbites to remember 2021 by.

Whether celebrating success, responding to setbacks or challenging injustice, in person or on social media, the PA news agency looks back on some of the quotes of the year.

“Mine and my coaching staff’s methods are second to nobody in the world” – Jose Mourinho, two months before he was sacked by Tottenham.

“I’m disgusted with Manchester United and Liverpool the most. Liverpool, they pretend: ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone, the people’s club, the fans’ club’. Manchester United – 100 years, borne out of workers from around here, and they’re breaking away into a league without competition that they can’t be relegated from? It’s an absolute disgrace” – Gary Neville spoke for millions of football fans when the breakaway Super League was proposed.

“It’s amazing the amount of uproar that comes into the game when someone’s pocket is being hurt. It’s a shame it’s not like this with everything that’s going wrong in the game, like racism” – Leeds striker Patrick Bamford put the whole furore into perspective.

“We made a mistake, and we apologise for it”- two days later the project had collapsed and the apologies began, this one from Arsenal.

“We are not just athletes, we’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back” – gymnastics superstar Simone Biles stunned the world when she withdrew from the Olympic women’s team final.

“I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion” – a powerful message from diving’s golden boy Tom Daley.

Tom Daley with his Olympic gold medal at the Team GB Ball
Tom Daley led by example (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“They have been an absolute joy to work with and they have gone further than we’ve gone for so long. But it is incredibly painful in that dressing room” – so near yet so far for England manager Gareth Southgate, after the penalty shoot-out defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

“I didn’t expect to be here at all. I mean, I think my flights were booked at the end of qualifying, so it’s a nice problem to have” – Emma Raducanu’s run to the US Open title surprised everyone, including her travel agent.

“It’s never once taken me that long to go to the toilet ever when it’s right there” – Flushing Meadows got a whole new meaning as Andy Murray raged over Stefanos Tsitsipas’ extended bathroom breaks.

“It’s a tough one to swallow, this loss, I mean, considering everything that was on the line” – Novak Djokovic fell one short of the calendar year grand slam.

Rory McIlroy was emotional after Ryder Cup defeat
Rory McIlroy was emotional after Ryder Cup defeat (Anthony Behar/PA)

“I love being a part of this team, I love my team-mates so much, and I should have done more for them this week” – a tearful Rory McIlroy reflected on his below-par Ryder Cup.

“We had everything agreed but, at the last minute, it couldn’t happen. I’ve heard lots of things being said about me. This year I wanted to stay and I couldn’t” – an emotional Lionel Messi left Barcelona.

“There was a lot of ‘you lot sit over there, near the toilets’” – Azeem Rafiq’s explosive testimony lifted the lid on racism in cricket.

“I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments” – snooker’s Shaun Murphy, shortly after losing to amateur Si Jiahui at the UK Championship.

“He thinks he’s shutting the critics up. But I think it’s embarrassing. He’s been a disgrace the last couple months for Manchester United. He thinks if he scores there, he’s going to shut his critics up. Embarrassing” – Roy Keane gave Harry Maguire both barrels on Sky Sports after taking exception to his goal celebration for England.

Harry Maguire celebrates scoring against Albania
Harry Maguire’s celebration against Albania was not well received by Roy Keane (John Walton/PA)

“I am the greatest heavyweight champion of my era, without a doubt. Number one” – the ever-modest Tyson Fury, after his trilogy win over Deontay Wilder.

“If I had a child I would not want him to play snooker, I really wouldn’t” – Ronnie O’Sullivan’s career in marketing looks further away than ever.

“My playing career has come to an end, and I am so incredibly grateful for the career that it turned out to be” – Johanna Konta hung up her tennis racket.

“He’ll be getting a lifetime supply of Red Bull for sure” – Red Bull team principal Christian Horner made a promise to Nicholas Latifi, whose crash ultimately led to Max Verstappen winning the Formula One world championship.

“THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!!” – Lewis Hamilton’s future team-mate George Russell led the chorus of disapproval.

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