|INTRO | REVIEW BY SPORT | GALLERY | VOTE | LEGENDS REMEMBERED | 2002 CALENDAR|
By Phil McNulty
The shadow of Sven-Goran Eriksson hung over football in 2001 from the moment he strode into the FA in January.
Swede Eriksson began as a foreign figure of suspicion - but ended a hero after master-minding England’s transformation.
It was the year David Beckham completed his journey from villain of France 98 to national icon.
And the year Michael Owen banished the spectre of injury to re-establish his world class talent.
One game - and one historic night in Munich - stood above everything as a symbol of England’s renaissance.
England met Germany in September with sights set on a World Cup play-off place.
Owen’s hat-trick inspired a sensational 5-1 win, then Beckham’s injury-time equaliser against Greece at Old Trafford automatically stamped England’s passport to Korea and Japan.
And Owen was prominent as Gerard Houllier, who underwent emergency heart surgery in October, restored Liverpool to Europe’s elite.
Liverpool overcame Birmingham on penalties in the Worthington Cup Final - but looked beaten in the FA Cup Final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Freddie Ljungberg put Arsenal ahead, but Owen’s dramatic double in the closing minutes gave Liverpool victory.
Liverpool’s improbable treble was completed in the Uefa Cup Final against Alaves in Dortmund, winning 5-4 on the “golden goal”.
Manchester United retained the Premiership - but lost to eventual winners Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Sir Alex Ferguson promptly splashed out £47m on Juan Veron and Ruud van Nistelrooy, but failed to arrest the slide in his final season.
Celtic boss Martin O’Neill turned the tables in Scotland, beating Rangers to the treble.
The year ended, inevitably, with Eriksson as England drew the World Cup “Group of Death” alongside Argentina, Sweden and Cameroon.
It left Eriksson pondering an even more challenging 2002.