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Sports Review of the Year 2000
Rugby League

By BBC Sport Online's
Phil McNulty

Kevin Keegan provided the year 2000's most graphic football image - rain-soaked and desolate at Wembley as he quit as England coach.

Keegan resigned minutes after World Cup defeat against Germany in Wembley's farewell on 7 October, broken by a poor Euro 2000, his own tactical shortcomings and the turning tide of public opinion.

It was all in sharp contrast to the joy Keegan experienced at the European Championship in June, when Alan Shearer's goal gave England their first competitive win against the Germans for 34 years.

The year's major football showpiece was the start of Keegan's decline into crisis, with victory against Germany sandwiched between damaging defeats against Portugal and Romania.

They sent England crashing as quickly as Keegan's credibility and he went into self-imposed exile a discredited figure.

Keegan's sudden departure capped a miserable year for the FA, with the ill-fated World Cup bid costing in excess of 10m.

The 2006 World Cup was eventually awarded, with huge controversy, to Germany.

South Africa were favourites, but were left heartbroken after New Zealand delegate Charles Dempsey abstained, sending the tournament back to Germany, who hosted it as recently as 1974.

France emerged as rightful Euro 2000 winners, beating Italy 2-1 courtesy of David Trezeguet's extra time golden goal in the final.

England regained some ground in the World Cup campaign with a draw in Finland under Howard Wilkinson's guidance, but the FA moved swiftly to find a successor to Keegan, and Swede Sven Goran Eriksson starts what he hopes will be a five-year term of office next June.

Manchester United once again exerted domestic domination in England, although their stroll to another Premiership was offset by losing their Champions League crown to Real Madrid, and suffering a poor reaction to their decision not to defend the FA Cup, choosing to contest the ill-fated World Club Championship instead, in which they failed to make an impact.

The other domestic honours went to FA Cup winners Chelsea and Worthington Cup winners Leicester City.

The Old Firm stayed in the spotlight in Scotland, with Rangers retaining their title as Celtic slipped into crisis. John Barnes was sacked as coach and was eventually replaced by Martin O'Neill - a move which was the catalyst for Kenny Dalglish's acrimonious exit from Parkhead.

The year also saw the departure of Dundee United United's legendary chairman Jim McLean, who quit after attacking a BBC reporter following a television interview.

It was the year of big transfer spending north and south of the border.

Leeds United broke the world record fee for a defender by paying 18m for West Ham's Rio Ferdinand in November, the same month as Rangers paid 12m for Chelsea's Tore Andre Flo.

Chelsea hit the mark in the summer with the 15m purchase of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and the sale of 6m Chris Sutton to Celtic, while Liverpool finally completed their long-planned 11m move for Leicester City's Emile Heskey in March.

Champions Manchester United remained relatively low key, signing France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez for 7.6m after earlier pulling out of a 19m deal for PSV Eindhoven injured striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy in April.

The real money was spent in Spain and Italy, with Real Madrid signing Barcelona's Luis Figo for 37m and Lazio paying Parma 36m for Hernan Crespo.

Barcelona make use of the cash by paying a combined 25m for Arsenal's Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit.

Football said goodbye to three legends and great entertainers, with Sir Stanley Matthews dying at the age of 85 in February, "Clown Prince" Len Shackleton in November at 78 and Wilf Mannion, who passed away in April.

The sacking season started early in the Premiership, with Chelsea dismissing Gianluca Vialli only five games into the new campaign, replacing him with little-known Italian Claudio Ranieri.

Vialli, who had won five trophies in two and a half years in charge, was soon joined by Bradford City's Chris Hutchings, whose gamble of signing Stan Collymore was rewarded, almost inevitably, with the sack.

Manchester United ended the year in control of the Premiership, as well as joining Leeds and Arsenal in advancing into the second phase of the Champions League.

It was the year of United, France and Keegan - and the FA is hoping 2001 will be the year of Sven Goran Eriksson.

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Germany beat England at Wembley
Keegan's reign of error
Barnes forced out of Celtic job
Chelsea beat Villa to win FA Cup
Rangers win Scottish Cup final
Man United sign French keeper Barthez
Vialli sacked by struggling Chelsea
Ferdinand signs for Leeds in 18m deal
France win Euro 2000
Euro 2000 - the rebirth of football