The Rundown

Britain’s top five sporting nearly-men

The Rundown

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Carl Froch

As Carl Froch slipped to a comprehensive defeat in the final of the Super Six series at the hands of unbeaten super-middleweight Andre Ward, the Nottingham-based boxer reflected that there was little he could have done differently.

"He fought the better fight on the night and I've got no excuses at all," Froch conceded in the aftermath.

Froch is a warrior, an excellent, brave fighter who has risen to be one of the very best boxers in his division. But, as Saturday night demonstrated - however good he is - Ward is a step ahead, and with youth on the American's side, Froch may unfortunately go down as a sporting nearly-man.

If that sounds harsh, it is; but it's a painful reality of elite level sport. For every unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr, there has to be a Ricky Hatton, who was better than everyone but the very best.

Should that be where history places Froch, he can content himself with sharing some illustrious and talented company.

We take a look at five British sportsmen who came very close to the top but were unable to make the final step to greatness.

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Tim Henman

Tim Henman

Henman still attracts some criticism for his failure to win Wimbledon, and his name has become synonymous with British misery at the top of world sport.

'Tiger Tim' made a habit of reaching the semi-finals of Grand Slams - he did so on six occasions - and sparking mass-hysteria before wilting on the big stage when faced with the very best opponents, such as Pete Sampras, who twice ended his runs at Wimbledon.

Ever plagued by the immense pressure in attempting to break an increasing British drought since the days of Fred Perry, Henman was never quite able to take that next step, but still enjoyed one an impressive and consistent career which contained no small amount of success.

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Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie

Monty will perhaps always be known as the 'best player never to have won a Major' after his persistent knack of imploding in the final stages of the world's biggest tournaments.

Eight times a European Tour Order of Merit winner, Montgomerie's class or talent was never in doubt, but his temperament certainly was.

The American galleries, in particular, seemed to forever curse the rotund Scot and he was never able to break the shackles of mental fragility and self doubt with the finish line in sight.

Monty had the chance to bury the tag of nearly man in the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot, but his dramatic capitulation with the tournament at his mercy summed up his inauspicious finishes in Majors, and he also came close at the US Open tournaments in 1992 and 1994 and the 1995 US PGA Championship.

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GraemeHick

Graeme Hick

The clamour for Hick's selection ahead of the Test series against West Indies in 1991 was incredible, and the prolific Worcestershire batsman appeared certain to take the world of international cricket by storm.

The Rhodesia-born middle order batsman plundered an incredible 136 centuries in first class cricket and scored 41112 runs at an average of 52.23, yet remarkably he could not translate his form in an England shirt.

Hick's highly underwhelming record of 3383 runs in 65 Tests at an average of 31.32 represents one of the greatest examples of a sportsman being unable to rise to the biggest stage despite boasting prodigious talent.

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Jimmy White

Jimmy White

The man nicknamed the 'Whirlwind' is best known for having reached six World Championship finals, and yet losing all six.

White will forever be referred to as the "People's Champion", but never landed the one tournament he wanted to win the most, surrendering an 14-8 lead to the incomparable Stephen Hendry in the 1992 final to lose 18-14, and losing to the same man for a fourth time in the final in 1994 in the 35th and deciding frame.

As if to accentuate the point, White recorded a maximum break at the World Championship in 1992, fittingly becoming the second player to do so.

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Dean Macey

Dean Macey

The decathlete from Canvey Island is best known for his gutsy, whole-hearted performances, but also for his failure to win a gold medal at the Olympics or World Championships.

Macey's breakthrough came as he won a silver medal at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, and it was widely believed that he would go on to become one of Britain's most decorated athletes.

But a combination of persistent injuries and the presence of the great Roman Sebrle ensured that Macey would only add a 2001 World Championship bronze to his tally with no Olympic medals in his cabinet - twice finishing fourth.

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