It was a decade full of skill, unforgettable moments and remarkable storylines.

Grand slam titles, Olympic Games gold medals, Rugby World Cups, Women's World Cups and more.

However, the impact and influence of some athletes proved more transcending than others.

We look at the most influential sports people of the past decade as we prepare to farewell the 2010s.

 

COLIN KAEPERNICK

Kaepernick has never swayed from his beliefs, even if it cost him a career in the NFL.

Following five years with the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick hit the headlines when he kneeled during the United States national anthem in 2016.

The quarterback cited racial injustice and police brutality. He filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of a job. Kaepernick settled that grievance in February.

Despite some backlash, the 32-year-old inspired a nation – receiving support from Nike, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Megan Rapinoe and others. He even refused to meet the NFL's demands for a workout in November – all but ending his career. For Kaepernick, it has always been about more than American football…

SIYA KOLISI

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi lifted the Rugby World Cup in November. However, his influence stretches much further than a rugby pitch.

In a country embroiled in economic turmoil and racial unrest, Kolisi – the Springboks' first black captain in their 127-year history – is a beacon of hope.

Having come from an area marked by unemployment and lack of opportunity, Kolisi has become a household name and a genuine inspirational star, who can help unite a nation.

MEGAN RAPINOE

Outspoken on and off the field, Women's World Cup winner and United States star Rapinoe has transcended football.

From LGBT rights, gender equality and racial quality, Rapinoe has led the fights.

The 34-year-old has drawn the ire of US president Donald Trump, and even called out FIFA over the gulf in prize money for the women's and men's World Cups as she strives to make football and the world a better place, while maintaining her dominance on the pitch – winning the 2019 Ballon d'Or Feminin, last year's Golden Ball and Golden Boot.

ANDY MURRAY

A three-time grand slam champion and former world number one, Murray's lasting legacy may be his fight for gender equality – not just his on-court achievements.

Not one to keep quiet, just watch him play tennis, Murray has championed against sexism, especially after hiring Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014. 

In 2015, Murray wrote: "Have I become a feminist? If being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then I suppose I have."

SIMONE BILES

This decade saw the emergence of a gymnastics sensation, yielding four Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 19 World Championships golds - 25 in total - over the past six years.

Biles is the most decorated artistic gymnast of all time at just 22 years of age, establishing herself as one of the best athletes in the world in the face of adversity.

The once-in-a-lifetime talent won five gold medals in Stuttgart, while dealing with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

In 2018, she claimed she was sexually abused by ex-Team USA gymnastics sports doctor Nassar, encouraging others to do the same. She continues to influence the sport in innumerable ways. 

ANTHONY JOSHUA

In a decade dominated by UFC and the emergence of mixed-martial arts, Joshua has stood tall for boxing. Flying the flag in the ring, the heavyweight champion consistently attracts crowds that have never been seen in British boxing.

A game-changer for the sport, Joshua has broadened boxing's appeal beyond traditional audiences. For his bout against Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April 2017, a post-ward record crowd of 90,000 attended.

An estimated 80,000 spectators also took in his clash with Carlos Takam in Cardiff six months later. Joshua also took a title fight to Saudi Arabia in December - regaining his belts.

ALEX ZANARDI

Zanardi survived one of the most horrific non-fatal crashes in the history of open-wheel racing. The Italian lost both his legs in 2001, while he was also red his last rites.

However, Zanardi – who said he went 50 minutes with less than a litre of blood and his heart stopped beating seven times – was not done.

The former CART champion turned to paracycling and won two gold medals in his 2012 Paralympics debut, followed by another two in 2016.

CASTER SEMENYA

A two-time Olympic Games gold medallist and athletics star, it has been a tough end to the decade for Semenya but the South African inspired a nation in 2019.

She missed the World Athletics Championships in October after the IAAF proposed regulations regarding athletes with differences of sex development (DSD).

The new rule instructed athletes such as Semenya – who compete in events from the 400m to a mile, to take medication to lower their testosterone levels to take part in women's track events.

Despite lengthy legal battles and years of questions, Semenya continued to fight for her rights, leading to a Nike video in which she spoke about acceptance, self-love and respecting people for who they are. "I'm one kind of an athlete. I run my own race. It's all about me," said Semenya.

Kristine Lilly has backed the work done by Megan Rapinoe and her United States colleagues in building the profile of women’s sport.

Rapinoe is coming to the end of a stunning year in which she played a major role in the US winning the World Cup while also landing two major individual prizes in the FIFA Best and Ballon d’Or.

But it is her outspoken nature off the pitch that has arguably accelerated her rise to global prominence.

A vocal supporter of women’s rights and equal pay – as well as taking on US president Donald Trump in a Twitter spat - Rapinoe has become an icon for many around the world.

Former US midfielder Lilly, who holds the record for most international appearances by a male or female footballer with 352, was impressed with the way Rapinoe and her team-mates conducted themselves during the World Cup in France over the summer as well as their general outlook.

Asked about Rapinoe's influence, Lilly told Omnisport: "They have a platform, they are fighting for women’s sport, women’s football to make it a better environment and it’s being heard.

"It’s helping other countries to recognise that the investment is needed.

"The US team did a great job, the last World Cup was pretty phenomenal for what they accomplished. I’m proud of what they continue to fight for."

The World Cup in France elevated the profile of women’s football to new levels and Lilly is hopeful that momentum will continue.

She added: "There’s no other way to go. The investment that FIFA is putting behind the women’s game is the catalyst for it because of the recognition of where we are and where we need to go.

"The more teams we create, build that base up for competition, the better the World Cup will be.

"They are going to expand to 32 teams so we will need those teams to have some finance behind them. I see great things for the future of the women’s game. We have to keep backing it."

Megan Rapinoe has urged Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, as well as other leading male superstars, to be more outspoken on social issues including racism and sexism.

United States international Rapinoe won the women's Ballon d'Or this week, joining Messi on the stage at the annual awards gala as the Barcelona great claimed the men's prize for a record sixth time, one more than rival Ronaldo.

But Rapinoe, who has long been vociferous in her opposition to discrimination, does not believe her male counterparts are doing enough.

"I want to shout, 'Cristiano, Leo, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], help me'," she told France Football. "These big stars do not engage in anything when there are so many problems in men's football.

"Do they have the fear of losing everything? They believe that but it's not true.

"Who would scratch Messi or Ronaldo's names from the world of football for a statement against racism or sexism?"

Rapinoe suggested recognition of her individual achievements was in part due to the way she has been open to discussing key topics.

"This Ballon d'Or rewards both," she said. "On the one hand, I am a very good footballer. On the other hand, my activism attracts support.

"People understand that I act to find solutions to the problems in our society. The idea is to empower others to speak loudly."

Megan Rapinoe has added another award to her collection after the United States star beat Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan to win the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

The 34-year-old became a World Cup winner for the second time in July, claiming both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot in France as her six goals helped Jill Ellis' team retain their trophy.

That led to Rapinoe being named The Best FIFA Women's Player in September and she has now succeeded Ada Hegerberg by winning the second ever Ballon d'Or Feminin.

England and Lyon right-back Bronze finished second in the voting while Rapinoe's USA team-mate Morgan was third.

Rapinoe was not at the ceremony in Paris on Monday, but said she was shocked to be the winning the award.

"It's a bummer [not to be there]," she said.

"I congratulate all the nominees. I can't believe I'm the one winning it.

"I want to thank my team-mates, my coaches, my federation, to allow me to be the person who I am on the field and off the field.

"Thank you to my beautiful girlfriend Sue. I'm so sorry I can't be there, I know it's going to be insane but I'll do my best to get there next year."

Megan Rapinoe has added another award to her collection after the United States star beat Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan to win the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

The 34-year-old became a World Cup winner for the second time in July, claiming both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot in France as her six goals helped Jill Ellis' team retain their trophy.

That led to Rapinoe being named The Best FIFA Women's Player in September and she has now succeeded Ada Hegerberg by winning the second ever Ballon d'Or Feminin.

England and Lyon right-back Bronze finished second in the voting while Rapinoe's USA team-mate Morgan was third.

Women's World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe has called on clubs, officials and fan groups to do more to eradicate racism from football.

Rapinoe highlighted the €75,000 (£65,000) fine given to Bulgaria by UEFA last month following evidence of racist abuse during the Euro 2020 qualifier with England as an example of where the sport is continuing to fall short.

Bulgaria were also ordered to play two games behind closed doors - the second of which is suspended for two years - in a decision Rapinoe branded "an absolute joke".

"We're not going to accept this. This is not something that's going to be in our game," she told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat.

"So I feel like all of the clubs and the presidents and fan groups and everyone, you know, frankly are failing these players.

"If you're ever caught doing anything racist you should be banned for life. That's just the end of it. I mean £65,000 is an absolute joke.

"For me I'm just like, make it super extreme so it's damaging to the team, to the federation, so it's damaging financially."

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling played in England's recent qualifier in Sofia and has been praised for speaking out about racism.

Rapinoe has urged others to follow his example.

"I need all the players on Raheem's team, all the players in the Premier League and in the leagues abroad to make it their problem because it really is everybody's issue," she said.

Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot as the United States defended their World Cup crown earlier this year, before collecting the Best FIFA Women's Player award in September.

Vlatko Andonovski has been named the new head coach of Women's World Cup winners the United States, replacing outgoing boss Jill Ellis.

Ellis stepped down in July after leading USA to a successful defence of their World Cup title in France.

US Soccer confirmed Andonovski as Ellis' successor on Monday, with the former FC Kansas City and Reign FC boss - who has coached in the NWSL for the past seven seasons - "honoured" to land the position.

"It's a huge honour and I'm very excited to get started with this group of players and staff as we work towards continued success for this programme," he said in a statement.

"All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I'm committed to working very hard to continue to move this programme forward."

Andonovski has experience of coaching USWNT veterans Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn. 

The 43-year-old's first game in charge will come against Sweden on November 7.

Alex Morgan has revealed she is pregnant just three months after helping the United States to Women's World Cup glory.

The Orlando Pride striker is expecting her first child with husband Servando Carrasco, the LA Galaxy midfielder, with a daughter due in April 2020.

Galaxy congratulated the pair on their news with a Twitter post on Wednesday, before Morgan uploaded pictures and a message to her Instagram page.

"We are already in love and we haven't even met her yet," she wrote. "Newest member of the Carrasco family, coming soon."

Morgan scored six goals at this year's World Cup - five of them coming in a record 13-0 win against Thailand - as USA defended their title.

She was nominated this week for the 2019 Ballon d'Or Femenin.

The 30-year-old has not featured for Orlando since suffering an injury 13 minutes into a 2-1 victory over Chicago Red Stars in late August.

Morgan revealed last month the knee issue had ended her National Women's Soccer League season early.

Megan Rapinoe, Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan lead the nominees for the 2019 Ballon d'Or Femenin in the award's second year.

Publication France Football revealed their 20-woman shortlist on Monday, acknowledging the successes of Lyon and United States in particular.

Women's Champions League winners Lyon have six players in the running, including Bronze and 2018 winner Ada Hegerberg, though the latter is not thought to be among the favourites given her World Cup absence.

United States lifted the trophy in France and four of their squad have been nominated, with Tobin Heath, Rose Lavelle, Morgan and Rapinoe flying the USA flag.

Rapinoe is regarded by many as the favourite, however, with the Reign FC star inspirational in the World Cup campaign, finishing joint top-scorer on six with Ellen White and Morgan, while she also added three assists.

She won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in France, before also taking home The Best FIFA Women's Player award, edging out Morgan. Bronze came third.

Full list of nominees:

Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Ellen White (Manchester City), Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars), Nilla Fischer (Wolfsburg), Amandine Henry (Lyon), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Dzenifer Marozsan (Lyon), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg), Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Sari van Veenendal (Atletico Madrid), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Marta (Orlando Pride), Ada Hegerberg (Lyon), Kosovare Asllani, Sofia Jakobsson (both CD Tacon/Real Madrid), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns).

Two-time Women's World Cup winner Carli Lloyd will seriously consider pursuing a future career as an NFL kicker when she retires from football.

Lloyd, 37, sent social media into a spin when she drilled a series of field goals, including one from 55 yards, while visiting a Philadelphia Eagles practice session in August.

The United States national team veteran and long-time Eagles fan is nearing the end of a decorated career in football and could swap the round ball for the pigskin in a bid to become the first woman to play in the NFL.

Her personal coach, James Galanis, said an unnamed team had offered Lloyd the chance to kick in a preseason game, while Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen has volunteered his services help ease the transition.

Lloyd said: "The NFL gig has definitely been a hot topic for me.

"It's something that just completely took me by surprise, it went viral.

"I'm definitely considering it. Right now I'm just going to focus on soccer at the moment but I definitely want to entertain the idea of potentially becoming the first female to kick in the NFL."

Lloyd, 37, plays at club level for NWSL side Sky Blue FC.

The 2016 Best FIFA Women's Player last month confirmed her desire to become a four-time Olympian at Tokyo 2020.

However, she admitted those plans depend on the identity of Jill Ellis' replacement as USA head coach.

Jill Ellis says it is for other people to determine what her legacy is after she bowed out as head coach of the United States women's team.

The 53-year-old, who took over the reins in 2014, leaves after guiding the national team to successive World Cup triumphs in 2015 and 2019.

Her final match, a friendly with South Korea in Chicago, ended in a 1-1 draw.

Ellis, who was recently named women's coach of the year at the Best FIFA Football Awards 2019, would not be drawn on how her time in charge will be remembered, instead choosing to highlight the lasting relationships she has built.

Asked what her legacy would be, she told reporters: "I've been asked that question before and I kind of feel that's someone else's narrative to write. It's not about me writing my legacy or what I hope it will be. I've tried to do the best I can.

"I've tried to always give everything I have to this job – and with passion. I feel good about that. What people think about that is going to be their story to write. It's been great.

"I've had amazing staff, who mean the world to me. I'll miss them because as I said to them last night, they're my family.

"I think that's just been the best part of this job, building relationships. I'm not going to remember games so much, as I'm going to remember all these people that helped me get where I am."

While this is the end of her USWNT coaching career, Ellis will continue to work with the federation for at least the next year in the role of an ambassador, representing U.S. Soccer at various events.

 

Megan Rapinoe does not understand why speculation she could join Barcelona spread like "wildfire", but she is open to offers.

The World Cup winner suggested in a recent interview with beIN SPORTS that she would like to play in Spain by the end of her career.

Barcelona board member Maria Teixidor indicated Rapinoe was an option for the club but indicated her wage demands could make a move difficult.

Reign FC star Rapinoe, however, appeared to row back on her earlier comments after playing for the United States in a 2-0 defeat of South Korea. 

"I was like, 'what did I say?', I don't remember saying that, but who knows because sometimes I say stuff," Rapinoe told reporters.

"I was like, 'did I say I was going there?', I just thought I was open to all offers as always. I'll entertain anything that has dollar signs next to it.

"It is interesting though. It's cool to see all of these teams jumping in and seeing that interest, if there is interest, to see it from foreign teams about players.

"Hopefully, that becomes more normal, with interest in players coming over to our league and vice-versa. It's going to be hard to lure us away from the travelling circus that we all partake in."

Rapinoe, though, said her family were keen on a potential move to Spain.

She added: "My mom and dad were already like, 'here we are over wine, living out our pipe dream in Barcelona for a year', and I was like 'what? What are we talking about?'.

"But I don't know. It might be nice, that two-bedroom apartment."

Rapinoe won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot as Jill Ellis' USA side defended their World Cup crown earlier this year, then she collected the Best FIFA Women's Player award last month.

Megan Rapinoe called on her fellow professional footballers to make the most of a "unique" opportunity to "change this world forever" during her acceptance speech at The Best FIFA Awards.

After collecting the women's individual honour at the ceremony in Milan on Monday, Rapinoe used the platform to speak out about some of the notable issues in the modern game.

The United States international declared how she had been inspired by Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly after the pair stood up to incidents of racism, as well as referencing other events that have highlighted the homophobia and inequalities that still exist within football.

Rapinoe finished by calling on those in attendance, as well as those watching on, to capitalise on the platform provided by the sport to make a difference for the future.

"Some of the stories that have inspired me the most this year: Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, their incredible performances on the field but the way that they have taken on the disgusting racism that they have had to face this year, but probably throughout their whole lives," the 34-year-old said.

"The young Iranian woman who eventually set herself on fire because she was not able to go to the game, the one 'out' MLS player and the countless other 'out' LGBTQ female players who fight so hard not just to play the sport that they love but also to fight the rampant homophobia that we have.

"Those were all the stories that inspired me so much, but they also made me a little bit sad and a bit disappointed.

"I feel like that if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring is if everyone other than Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, if they were so outraged about racism as they were.

"If everybody else was that outraged as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was outraged by the equal pay, or lack there of, or the lack of investment in the women's game, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.

"We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players, so much success – financial and otherwise – we have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here to lend your platform to other people, lift them up and share your success.

"We have a unique opportunity in football, different to any other sport in the world, to use this beautiful game to change this world forever.

"I hope you take that to heart, do something, anything. We have incredible power in this room."

Rapinoe secured The Best award for the first time in her career, edging out fellow nominees Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze after winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the Women's World Cup in France.

Megan Rapinoe has won The Best FIFA Women's Player award for the first time in her career, securing the prize ahead of fellow finalists Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan.

Rapinoe receives the individual honour after playing a starring role in the United States’ triumph at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

The 34-year-old scooped the Golden Boot after scoring six goals, while she was also lifted the Golden Ball after being judged the best player at the tournament.

Morgan also finished with the same number of goals in France, though missed out on the scoring crown by virtue of playing more minutes than her compatriot.

The 30-year-old striker – who has surpassed a century of goals in her illustrious international career – was the only one of the trio to previously be nominated, finishing third in 2012.

Meanwhile, the coach's award went to Jill Ellis, who made history at the Women’s World Cup.

The USA boss became the first coach to win the tournament for a second time, having also led them to glory in the 2015 edition in Canada.

Bronze, meanwhile, was a key member of the England squad that reached the last four, following on from an outstanding season for Lyon that included helping the French club lift the Women’s Champions League for a fourth successive season.

Rapinoe and Morgan were joined by compatriots Kelley O'Hara, Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz in the FIFA FIFPro Women's World11.

As well as Bronze, there were also places for Brazil legend Marta, Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, Sweden's Nilla Fischer and France duo Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry.

 

FIFA FIFPro Women's World11: Sari van Veenendaal, Lucy Bronze, Nilla Fischer, Kelley O’Hara, Wendie Renard, Julie Ertz, Amandine Henry, Rose Lavelle, Marta, Alex Morgan

Women's World Cup star Alex Morgan will not play again this year due to a knee injury, she has announced.

The United States forward Morgan, 30, made the announcement on Instagram, calling an end to her season with the Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League.

"This year has had the highest of highs but along with that comes challenges and sometimes even falling short of my goals I set for myself in 2019," Morgan wrote.

"I'm disappointed I won't be able to compete with the Pride for the remainder of 2019 due to a knee injury I've been managing since the World Cup, and that I can't be there to help my team-mates and my club have more success.

"I have already started physical therapy in LA and am eager to get back on the field doing what I love."

The Pride said in a statement Morgan had "a patella stress reaction in her right knee" stemming from an injury sustained while with the national team.

"It's obviously difficult to lose a player of Alex's calibre due to injury," Pride general manager Erik Ustruck said.

"However, after consulting with the club’s medical team at Orlando Health and U.S. Soccer, we felt it was in the best interest of Alex's long-term health to shut her down for the season to focus on the rehabilitation process and take the appropriate time to recover from the lingering knee injury."

The striker has been nursing the injury since she was substituted during USA's group game against Sweden at the World Cup in June.

She returned to play in the remaining games of the tournament, won by USA as they defended their title, even scoring a goal in a semi-final victory over England.

Morgan, who has played six games with the Pride this season, four before the World Cup and two since, has a history of knee injuries.

She suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament as a teenager in high school and also underwent keyhole surgery on her right knee in 2015.

Morgan, along with USA team-mate Megan Rapinoe, has been nominated for The Best FIFA Women's Player award, with the winner to be announced at a ceremony in Milan on September 23.

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