Top 10 sporting villains who found redemption

Top 10 redemption tales

Eurosport

Carlos Tevez quickly turned from villain to hero when he set-up Manchester City's winner against Chelsea on Wednesday night.

It was Tevez's first appearance for City since he infamously refused to warm-up during a Champions League match at Bayern Munich six months ago.

He still has some work to do before he can completely win over the fans, the media and the general public but there are examples of sporting villains in the past who have managed to redeem themselves.

Here's our top 10:

Eric Cantona - Football

English football was plunged into a state of shock in 1995 when Cantona launched a kung fu kick at Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons after being sent off at Selhurst Park.

Cantona had the backing of his own fans but was banned for eight months and roundly criticised by the media for his actions. During his comeback game he was afforded a hero's welcome as he set up one and scored the other in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool. He went on to help United win the double in the 1995-96 season — scoring the winner in the FA Cup final, again against Liverpool. Even the press, who had roundly hammered him after the incident at Palace, hailed his redemption as they named him Football Writers' Player of the Year.

David Beckham - Football

Beckham has gone down as one of England's greatest players and captains but after the World Cup in 1998 there were many people that never wanted to see him play for the country again. The then Manchester United star was blamed for England's exit in France after he got sent off in the last-16 clash against Argentina. The Daily Mirror printed a dartboard with Beckham's face on it, an effigy was hung outside a London pub, and fans booed him around the country. However, Beckham slowly won supporters over with his performances on the pitch and by 2000 he was named England captain for the first time. His iconic redemptive moment came in 2001 when his stunning free kick against Greece sent England back to the World Cup.

Christine Ohuruogu - Athletics

After missing three out-of-competition drugs tests in 2006 it looked like Christine Ohuruogu's chances of ever representing Britain at the Olympics were over. She was given a one-year ban but the BOA banned her from competing at the Games for life. After losing her original appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport she stated that she was probably going to move to another country to compete at the Olympics before a secondary appeal was successful. Just days after her ban was overturned in 2007 she won gold at the World Championship. A year later she followed it up with gold at the Beijing Games and was awarded an MBE for her achievements.

Herschelle Gibbs - Cricket

Herschelle Gibbs is no stranger to making emotional returns. The explosive opening batsman sank to his haunches and wiped tears from his eyes after hitting a century on his comeback following drink-driving charges being made against him in 2009. Most notoriously, Gibbs was banned for six months in 2001 for his part in the match-fixing affair with Hansie Cronje, who offered him $15,000 to score "less than 20" in a one-day international. Gibbs did not follow through, scoring a fine 74 and, as a result, was banned for only six months. Since then, Gibbs has recorded nine Test centuries, and 18 in 50-over cricket while becoming the first player in ODI history to hit six sixes in an over at the 2007 World Cup and a popular, successful and aggressive batsman.

Michael Vick — American Football

Michael Vick was one of the most exciting players in NFL with the Atlanta Falcons but in 2007 he was sentenced to 23 months in a federal prison after pleading guilty of financing and participating in dog fights and executions. His career was in tatters and heavy debts saw Vick filing for bankruptcy. In 2009 he was released from prison and showed utter repentance for his crimes. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as a back-up quarterback on a one-year contract in 2009 and the team picked up an option on him for another year in 2010. That season he won the starting job and once again became one of the best players in the league. In 2011 the Eagles rewarded Vick with a six-year, $100m contract. He has now paid back nearly all his original creditors and last year he became the first person that Nike ever signed up to a endorsement deal after having previously dropped them.

Lester Pigott — Horse Racing

'The Long Fellow' called an end to his amazing career as a jockey in 1985 to become a trainer after having won over 4,000 races including nine Epsom Derbies. However, in 1987 he was convicted of tax fraud and jailed for three years — just over one of which he served. He was left in disgrace and even had his OBE stripped. However, on his release from prison he decided to go back to doing what he did best, riding horses, and he delighted fans with victories in the Breeders' Cup Mile in 1990 and the 2000 Guineas in 1992. He is still held in great esteem by the horse racing community — with the annual jockey awards, The Lesters, named in his honour.

Lawrence Dallaglio - Rugby

Lawrence Dallaglio's image was in tatters in1999 when he was forced to resign as England captain after a News of the World article claimed that he had taken and dealt hard drugs in his youth. Dallaglio insisted that he was the victim of an elaborate set-up by the paper, who duped him with a proposed big sponsorship deal. The RFU would eventually clear Dallaglio of the more serious accusations that came out, although they did fine him £15,000 for bringing the game into disrepute. The validity of the story was never proved one way or the other but Dallaglio was able to slowly rebuild his reputation and became a sporting hero again when he played a key role in England's 2003 World Cup triumph.

Tony Adams - Football

The Arsenal captain was sent to prison in 1990 for crashing his car into a wall near his house while more than four times over the legal limit. It was not until six years later than Adams finally came out and admitted he was an alcoholic after some more unsavoury incidents. A tell-all autobiography was roundly praised on its release in 1998 and in 2000 he set up the Sporting Chance Clinic - a charitable foundation aimed at providing treatment, counselling and support for sportsmen and women suffering from addiction. He enjoyed some of his best football in his later days with Arsenal too — helping the club to win league and cup doubles in 1998 and 2002. He was awarded an MBE in 2004 and last year Arsenal erected a statue of him outside their Emirates Stadium ground.

John Higgins - Snooker

In 2010 snooker star Higgins found himself on the front page of the News of the World after being accused by the paper of taking a bribe to throw frames in a match. Higgins was cleared of match-fixing but banned for six months and fined £75,000 for admitting he had given the impression that he would go along with the scam and for failing to report the meeting to governing body World Snooker. In his first major championship back (the 2010 UK Championship) he received a mixed reaction from the fans but amazingly managed to come back from 9-5 down to win the final against Mark Williams 10-9. He concluded the 2010-11 season by winning his fourth World Championship just a couple of months after his father's death. That victory saw him win back the affections of the majority of fans although one spectator did shout out: "You're a disgrace to snooker" during his semi-final victory.

David Millar - Cycling

The British cyclist was banned for two years between 2004 and 2006 for taking the drug EPO but since his return he has put as much effort into highlighting the negative impact of drugs in sport as he has into resurrecting his impressive cycling career. Millar has managed to continue competing at a high level while clean. Since returning from his ban he has won stages in all three Grand Tours (the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana) while also winning gold at the Commonwealth Games and silver at the World Time Trial Championships. However, due to the BOA's lifetime ban rule he will not be allowed to represent Britain at the London Olympics. as things stand.

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