The German Maestro was the first German, the first unseeded player and the youngest ever player to win Wimbledon when he triumphed over Kevin Curren in the 1985 (a vintage year in my family, I was born!) final. In total he collected 5 major titles and set the world alight. He of course spent time “Tiger Woodsing” it in broom closets, however his record, much like Tigers, can not be faulted. A definite highlight in his spell at the top was the great duel between him and Stefan Edberg, in a very Nadal-Federer kind of manner. He also helped Germany to win the Davis Cup in 1989. Read a biography of the cupboard bonking German here.
While we are talking tennis, it makes sense that we should bring up South Africa’s favourite son, Wayne Ferreira
An Olympic silver medalist and an all round nice guy. Wayne Ferreira is the good guy of South African Tennis. He reached a career high ranking of 6th (1995) and held the record for playing in the most consecutive Grand Slams by competing in 56 between 1991 and 2004. This run was highlighted by twice reaching the semi finals of the Australian Open. He won 15 career titles and is still the most successful South African in the modern era. Remarkably had a P12 W6 L6 head to head record with Pete Sampras, possibly the greatest player of our era (no disrespect to Federer). And a ginger too!
Moving onto a different sport, it is only fair when talking about gingers who have excelled in sport, to bring up the evergreen Paul Scholes
The Manchester United hard man is the classic one-club man. He has been at Manchester United since he was 14 years old and has just surpassed his 36th birthday. He is the 4th highest capped player of Manchester United history behind Giggs, Charlton and Foulkes. He represented England 66 times and scored 14 times for the 3 lions. If ever a ginger has made his mark on European football it is Mr Scholes. He has won the premier league 9 times, the FA Cup 3 times and the Champions League twice.
Further into football we could look at Nicky Butt and Dirk Kuyt, but in the shadow of the man named Mr Scholes, these two are really just boring. So lets move on. After the Springboks managed to salvage some pride on the weekend, I am happy to ponder on rugby. Of course if you are thinking Rugby and Gingers, surely one man comes to mind. That man can only be Welshman Neil Jenkins.He was the first player to score 1000 international rugby points and one wonders if he had been at a team like the Springboks how much better it would have been! He played 87 times for Wales as well as 4 times for the British and Irish Lions. Amassing 1090 points in total. For South Africa we will always remember that his kicking was the difference in the 1997 Lions tour. He also endeared himself to Scots and Aussies worlds over when in the 1999 Five nations he kicked a touchline conversion to beat England 32-31, giving Scotland the title on points difference.
The other notable rugby player being ginger is Clyde Rathbone, but he is a chop. Nuff said.
Moving on to the home of the gingers, cricket. South Africa have been blessed with ginger fast men over the years in namely Mornantu Hayward, David Tebrugge and new boy Rusty Theron. But undoubtedly for me and also earning the “All things Jabu Best Ginger Sportsman” is the ex captain Shaun Pollock.
The son of the legendary Peter Pollock and nephew of the even more legendary Graeme Pollock, some say he was born with a cricket bat in his one hand and a cricket ball in the other. Cricket was always going to be in his blood! Considered by many as one of the greatest all rounders to play the game, he is also South Africa’s all time leading wicket taker with 421 scalps. He played for his country a remarkable 108 tests and 303 ODI’s. He will always be remembered for the 2003 blunder that led to South Africa being eliminated from the Cricket World Cup. Considered to have bowed out at the top of his game, but he will also be remembered as the only Ginger to unify a nation as opinion is not split on the great man.
Until next time, consider putting a ginger in your team, or don’t.