A one hit wonder is a term better associated with music but sport has often been subject to many a person who was in the spotlight for a period of time and then found themselves cast back into obscurity. Sean Cremin provides us with a list of ten sporting ‘one hit wonders’ in no particular order.
Tim Tebow – American Football
The man described as a “gamer”, a “baller”, a “playmaker” and a “shot caller” took the Denver Broncos from a horrific 1-4 start to the play-offs in the 2011-2012 NFL season. He gained cult hero status for his religious poses and winning games. ‘All he did was win games’ when he was finally unleashed as a quarterback but after one season he was rarely seen again.
At the end of the 2011-2012 season, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets when the Broncos decided to acquire the services of the legendary Peyton Manning. The media circus that followed Tebow proved to be a massive problem for all parties and his ability and effectiveness became heavily questioned.
He was released by the New York Jets after one season, and despite a brief stint with the New England Patriots, Tebow has not played in the NFL since. No franchise has taken a punt on Tebow and it now appears that his NFL career is over after one season.
Javier Hernandez – Football
The man they call Chicharito may seem a harsh inclusion on this list but he is realistically living off one good season at Manchester United and has failed to reach anywhere near the same heights since.
He arrived at Old Trafford after the World Cup in 2010 and his first season was a real success. He mimicked the style of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer in being a super-sub and scoring vital late goals for the Red Devils. At one stage of the seasons his stats read eleven attempts on goal with eight goals scored.
He scored some big goals for United; his backward header against Stoke, a last minute winner against Everton along with an impressive record against Chelsea being the main highlights.
But since that one good season he has done little or nothing. He was given endless opportunities to start and failed to make much of an impact. He has since been shipped out of Old Trafford and moved to Real Madrid where his impact has been minimal so far. A cynic will say that his knack of scoring goals is vital, but not as far as this writer is concerned. He did it for one season only, making him a one hit wonder.
Federico Macheda – Football
This man could possibly be classified as the biggest or at least the most famous ‘one hit wonder’ of all. Who could ever forget the season and the more specific moment of Sky Sport’s Martin Tyler roaring out “Machedaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” and Old Trafford erupting as the unknown Italian scored a vital last minute winning goal.
Manchester United were 2-1 down at home to Aston Villa with the title race firmly balanced. In typical United fashion, they equalised to level proceedings as the game went into stoppage (Fergie) time. Then the ball fell to Macheda in the box who turned the defender on a sixpence before bending a right-footed shot into the far corner to send Old Trafford into ecstasy.
It was his first goal and some would say it was the game that won United the Premier League that year.
The following week, he scored a second winning goal in a week when he struck against Sunderland to secure a 2-1 victory. He won United four vital points as they went on to win the Premier League and barely featured for the club again.
Safe to say, Macheda was a one hit wonder.
Eamonn Taafe – Hurling
His sporting highlight dates all the way back to 1995 but the name of Eamon Taafe is one that will go down in hurling folklore forever. The Clare man made the Banner roar louder than ever before as the substitute scored the goal that gave Clare the lead towards the end of the 1995 All-Ireland hurling final.
Clare became everyone’s second favourite team that year as Ger Loughnane led a hurling revolution by taking training to a whole new level. Clare trained harder than anybody else and went from being the whipping boys of Munster to All-Ireland champions in the space of a few years.
Taafe was introduced as a substitute in the 1995 final with Clare trailing against Offaly. Taafe had little impact on the game on his arrival and was ready to be substituted again. Then a long range free rebounded off the post and fell to Taafe who whipped first time on the ball that flew into the back of the net. Clare went in front and held on to win only their second All-Ireland title.
Taafe’s impact on the game was minimal in terms of time but maximal in terms of effectiveness. He scored the vital goal that Clare needed to get in front the rest is history. He remained on the Clare panel afterwards but did not make any huge impact. So while he did not last for too long, he will always be remembered.
Greece 2004 – Football
Major soccer tournaments can often throw up a fairytale story. It is often a case of a lesser country having a go and totally defying all the odds, examples include Korea and Turkey in the 2002 World Cup as well as Costa Rica in the 2014 World Cup. These teams were definitely one hit wonders but none more so than the Greece team that won the 2004 European Championships.
Upon entering the tournament, few people saw the Greeks as a team that would get out of their group, never mind win the tournament. They were in a group with Portugal and Spain, two of the powerhouses of European football.
They ruined opening day by beating the hosts, Portugal, and then drew with Spain before qualifying from the group as winners.
A quarter-final victory over France followed with a semi-final victory over Czech Republic to set up a final meeting with Portugal. They beat the hosts 1-0 and lifted the trophy to cause one of the biggest upsets in sporting history.
They played negative football but secured the results required to win one of football’s major trophies. They were a one hit wonder, but they will not mind.
Andy Carroll – Football
It may be a bit soon to include him at this very moment in time, but Andy Carroll could easily be classified as a one hit wonder on the basis of his career so far. One half of a season is all Carroll has spent as a good professional footballer yet he is still responsible for commanding a record transfer for two Premier League clubs, Liverpool and West Ham.
Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship led to regular game time for Carroll and he had a very good season in the second tier of English football as Newcastle returned to the Premier League straight away.
This meant he was a main striker for a Premier League club and his first few months in the top tier were promising. He played to his strengths and became a real handful for all defences.
The following transfer window saw him linked with a number of clubs before Liverpool splashed out an incredible £35 million, a British record, for Carroll on transfer deadline day.
The move was a disaster. He had his moments but overall the move was not a good fit. He moved onto West Ham for £17 million, where he has had a torrid time with injury and has failed to have an influence to justify his fee.
He is not finished yet and could shake off this tag but we won;t be holidng our breaths. He had one good half a season and has completely failed to consistently reach those heights.
Amir Zaki – Football
The former Wigan striker was reminiscent of the aforementioned Andy Carroll in that he had one half of a season where he was a very good Premier League striker. The difference is that Zaki completely disappeared and is no longer known to many football fans, particularly fans outside of the Premier League.
He was a relative unknown when he joined Wigan in 2008 but the rate in which he found the back of the net caught people’s attention instantly. He scored ten goals in the first half of the season and was the Fantasy Football gem.
Then all of a sudden he seemed to simply disappear. He hardly even lasted a full season at Wigan.
He has become so obscure that he even managed to be the man for ‘Forgotten Friday’ on this website a few weeks ago. A look at his record makes it amazing to think that he fails to be remembered. His goal ratio would be as good as the best in the Premier League. The only problem is that his goals came over a short period of time and he was never seen again. He was most definitely a flash in the pan.
Rich Beem – Golf
Rich Beem is the first golfer on the list. Golf is a sport that can often throw up a number of one hit wonders and none more so than Rich Beem. The four golf majors can often throw up an obscure winner and each of these could be classified as a one hit wonder but Beem went on a run in 2002 that led many people to think that he could be an excellent golfer.
He won back-to-back championships on the PGA Tour including the PGA Championship where he defeated Tiger Woods by a single shot while Woods was right at the top of his game. These consecutive wins made the name ‘Rich’ very appropriate indeed.
But the wheels came off for Beem very quickly.
Two wins in a row would often get a player far enough up the money list to compete for a place in Ryder Cup team but his failure to add any wins or high place finishes shows that he was a real one hit wonder. The name will be remembered but the question that will follow is; what ever happened to him?
Andrew Flintoff – Boxing
The England cricketer, one of the best of his generation embarked on a heavily publicised boxing career in 2012 which safe to say did not last very long. His cricket career was often tarnished by stories of binge drinking and drunken antics but his ability and influence on the England side was never in question.
In terms of cricket, he was anything but a one hit wonder but his boxing career very much was a once off. Having undergone serious knee surgery, it looked like he would never compete in professional sport again. But the success of the Sky television show, A League of Their Own, kept Flintoff in the public eye and Flintoff soon starred in another Sky show; From Lords To The Ring.
He took part in a series which followed his full training camp under Barry McGuigan as Flintoff prepared to step into the professional boxing ring. His fight took place against Richard Dawson in 2012 and while Flintoff was victorious the event itself was heavily criticised and Flintoff’s boxing career did not last longer than one fight.
The event was criticised from a boxing point of view, in that a man who had never boxed before was granted a licence for a professional fight, and that the fight was more reminiscent of a ‘white collar’ fight as opposed to a professional fight. So overall, Flintoff’s boxing career would definitely fall under the category of a one hit wonder.
Kirk Shepard – Darts
The 2008 PDC World Darts Championship will be remembered for many reasons. Firstly, it was the first time in history that Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor failed to make the final of the competition. His defeat at the quarter-final stage blew the championship wide open. But the real story of that year was Kirk Shepard.
His list of victims was impressive as he beat Terry Jenkins, Peter Manley and Wayne Mardle, who had defeated Phil Taylor, to qualify for the final. He was a complete unknown prior to the tournament. He was ranked 142 in the world prior to the start of the championship.
The sheet-metal worker gained a host of admirers as he faced John Part in the final where the dream almost became a reality. Unfortunately, he was well beaten in the final as he lost 7-2 to John Part and his involvement at elite level darts has been very low since. It was a once-off performance and Shepard was more or less never heard of following his final defeat.
Is there anybody else you would add to our list? Feel free to let us know if there are any sports stars that we missed out on. #PAOneHitWonders
Sean Cremin, Pundit Arena.