Anthony Joshua
Joshua provided one of the iconic photos of 2015 with his win over Dillian Whyte.Getty

As 2015 draws to a close, IBTimes UK looks back at those who have made the year their own and those who... well, haven't.


While his rise began at the tail end of 2014, Harry Kane has been one of the breakout stars of 2015. Starting the year with that memorable brace against Chelsea, the 22-year-old has gone onto to find the back of the net 28 more times, including one on his England debut. The rise of Anthony Joshua has been one of the most exciting plots in British boxing this year. His four devastating knockout wins this year culminated in an enthralling showdown with Dillian Whyte in December where he claimed another victim and his status as a genuine superstar-in-waiting was further reinforced.

Harry Kane
Kane became a household name in 2015. Getty

Joe Root's rise to the no. 1 spot in Test cricket's batting rankings earlier this year – becoming the first Englishman since 2002 to do so – and earning him a place in the ICC Test Team of the Year were just two of the personal accolades he scooped as he continued to mark himself out as one of the best batsmen in the game. James DeGale is another to clinch recognition on the biggest stage this year, winning the IBF super-middleweight title in May before his hugely impressive defence against the wily Lucian Bute. And for all his personal faults, Tyson Fury thoroughly deserves recognition for halting Wladimir Klitschko's 11-year reign of dominance in the heavyweight division. This is an article about sporting achievement, after all, a field where he has reached his pinnacle.

No individual has dominated their own sport in 2015 like Novak Djokovic. The Serbian's stranglehold on tennis saw him clinch three of the year's four majors and he failed to reach the final just once in the 16 tournaments he entered over the last 12 months. His power, poise and relentless consistency means his status as world no. 1 has not been in doubt in a long time.

Novak Dkokovic
Another dominant year for Djokovic. Getty

Jordan Spieth looked to be on his way to doing similarly in golf. His Masters victory in April saw him score a record equalling 18-under par at Augusta, holding his lead from the opening round and becoming the second youngest man to win the year's first major. He went one better at the US Open, when he became the youngest champion since 1923 after beating Dustin Johnson at Chambers Bay. From a managerial perspective, Michael O'Neill's stunning achievement in guiding Northern Ireland to their first ever European Championships and their first major competition in 30 years eclipses most.


After 14 years playing at a very high level, Wayne Rooney is on the wane. The Manchester United captain has contributed just six Premier League goals all year and the level of his performances have been perhaps the most concerning caveat of United's dismal season.

When you think back to the dizzying heights Cesc Fabregas was operating on during the second half of 2014, you wonder how such a seasoned winner can undergo such a staggering drop. By this point in the 2014-15 season, the Spain international has registered 17 assists. Just five followed in the first half of 2015 while has offered a paltry three this season.

Ronda Rousey
Rousey brutally knocked out in perhaps the biggest shock in UFC history.Getty

Ronda Rousey finishes the year will her status as one of the world's recognised sporting names intact but with her flawless record gone after a brutal knockout defeat to Holly Holm in November. One defeat in a year is passable for some, but not Rousey. Her defeat was rightfully described as one of the biggest upsets in the promotion's history.

2015 was supposed to be English rugby's year. But hosting the World Cup in their own backyard merely set themselves up for an almighty catastrophe where they failed to get out of their pool and suffered the indignity of being the first home nation to pack their bags. While responsibility rests with the players, the staff and the RFU, head coach Stuart Lancaster bore the brunt of it. The decision to select Sam Burgess over the formally ever-present Luther Burrell and the lack of conviction in his decisions over who would occupy the fly half role were among the chief reasons for the calamity and his inevitable departure.

Stuart Lancaster
Lancaster's England humbled at RWC2015Getty Images

Losing a high profile heavyweight title match normally wouldn't be enough to win you a place on lists such as these. But Wladimir Klitschko's listless display against Tyson Fury in Brussels ensures him a spot. Repeatedly urged by his camp to test Fury's chin knowing the previous rounds had gone against their fighter, the Ukrainian offered nothing as his 11-year reign came to an end with a whimper.

Tiger Woods is unfortunately becoming a regular on these lists. Things momentarily looked up for the 14-time major winner at the Masters when he made the final cut tied with Rory McIlroy at the beginning of the final day. He failed to make it in the next three majors of the season, however and is now facing a "long and tedious" recovery after undergoing another back surgery.