How do soccer players fare at the SPOTY awards and does Sterling have a chance of glory?

Planet Sport looks back on 67 years of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards and finds it has been slim pickings for the nation’s soccer players.

You know Christmas is just around the corner when the British public vote for the sportsperson they believe has achieved the most in that calendar year.

This year, tennis player Emma Raducanu heads the Sports Personality of the Year betting. And, with the Olympics also having taken place during 2021, it seems unlikely that a soccer player will feature in the top three, let alone rival US Open winner Raducanu for the award.

England's Raheem Sterling is the game's flagbearer after the final nominations were announced on Monday, with Marcus Rashford missing out. Planet Sport looks at his (admittedly slim) chances of success and how British players have fared in past SPOTYs.

Which soccer players have won it in the past?

Bobby Moore Eusebio SPOTY Dec66

In the 67 years of BBC Sports Personality of the Year, an astonishingly low number of soccer players have taken home the award. Bobby Moore, Paul Gascoigne, Michael Owen, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs complete the very select list.

Legendary defender Moore won the award in 1966 after England lifted the World Cup, with team-mate and final hero Geoff Hurst in third.

It took another 24 years for a player to be regarded as the Sports Personality of the Year, and who better to break that drought than Paul Gascoigne?

Paul Gascoigne SPOTY Dec90

Gazza stole the hearts of the British public at Italia '90. It may have ended in tears as England bowed out in the last four, but it proved enough for Gascoigne to clinch the SPOTY award at the end of the year bash. Team-mate Gary Lineker was third.

In 1998, Michael Owen burst onto the scene at the World Cup, scoring a wonder goal aged 18 to become England's youngest-ever goalscorer.

In a match that will live long in the memory, David Beckham was sent off before England eventually bowed out on penalties.

Nevertheless, Owen was a breath of fresh air and long before we discovered he had no personality, the youngster became the third soccer player to gain the SPOTY accolade.

Public enemy number one after the '98 World Cup, Beckham would go on to be the next soccer player crowned Sports Personality of the Year.

David Beckham SPOTY 2001

Redemption was secured when the England midfielder bent a free-kick around the Greece wall to send England to the 2002 World Cup. It was enough to hand him the 2001 award.

The most recent recipient was Welsh wing-wizard Ryan Giggs in 2009.

Arguably, Giggs was rewarded for his career, rather than his year after picking up his 11th league title for Manchester United.

Jenson Button was the unlucky runner-up despite winning the F1 world driver's championship.

How have soccer players fared in recent years?

Jordan Henderson SPOTY Dec20

In 2020, Liverpool and England midfielder Jordan Henderson came the closest to winning the award since Giggs, finishing second to F1 superstar Lewis Hamilton.

Henderson was included on the six-name shortlist for the award in a year that saw him lift the Premier League title with Liverpool. Away from the pitch, Henderson was recognised for his charity work, including donations to food banks in the Liverpool area.

Liverpool were also handed the Team of the Year award, which was accepted by Henderson on behalf of the team.

2021 nominee Raheem Sterling was on a six-person shortlist for the award two years ago but finished outside the top three.

The England international played a key role as Manchester City completed a domestic treble under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. He was also recognised for his stand against racism and was voted Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year for 2019.

Harry Kane Geraint Thomas Lewis Hamilton

Harry Kane finished third in 2018 after captaining England to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia. The Tottenham striker scored six goals, including a hat-trick against Panama, to win the tournament's Golden Boot.

The year before, Kane was also nominated, finishing eighth with 3.44% of the vote.

The 2021 soccer contender

Raheem Sterling England celebrations Euros Jun21

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling had success in 2021 at both international and club level. With Manchester City he won the Premier League title for a third time and also won his fifth League Cup after City defeated Tottenham 1-0 at Wembley.

Sterling would also play at Wembley another six times, contributing three goals and an assist as England suffered penalty shootout heartbreak in the final of Euro 2020.

A huge factor in lifting the Three Lions and, in turn, the nation, Sterling's odds would undoubtedly have been slashed had he rifled home a penalty instead of sitting out the shootout.

READ MORE: Pass master Henderson set to break long-standing Premier League record

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