Why Ballesteros was an all round great sportsman who was respected beyond golf

Going away for a long weekend does have its advantages. Disconnecting from laptops and the trappings of the technological world can only be a good thing.  However, not being able to blog about the tragic death of one of the world's greatest sportsmen was frustrating.

Seve Ballesteros was a giant within golf and a name associated with grace and sportsmanship throughout the world.  Akhlaq Hanif has summed up Seve's life and legacy in this superb piece which he has kindly allowed us to include on our blog.

The sad passing of Severiano Ballesteros today highlights how a star in his own profession can transcend beyond their sport and appeal to everyone.
Golf was a game I was not interested in growing up in South Yorkshire. It never really appealed to me. The idea of running around an 18 hole golf course, putting a little ball into a hole didn’t seem that enthralling. But wanting to be a sports writer, I kept up to date with the regular on-goings of the sport and there weren’t too many people in the world who didn’t know Tiger Woods, golf fans or not.
My interest in golf emerged a few years ago, when watching the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup event, it drew me in as I ignored the perceptions I had of golf and started to realise the value of a sport that I had in my teens, dismissed as boring.
Woods’ utter dominance of the game shrouded the lack of charisma in his personality which irritated some people tired of hearing his robotic cookie cutter answers in press conferences.
It made people reminisce about a player from Spain in the 1980s who like Woods, had achieved similar success to the American but more importantly, was more appreciated by the public not only for his golf skills but for his warm and cheeky exterior.
Alongside Woods, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus ensconced on the table of golfing legends, the name Seve Ballesteros will also be there with them.
Watching archive footage of Ballesteros’ big successes, it was too clear that this man who ran around playing 18 holes of golf was no ordinary individual. His exuberance, confidence and smile ingratiated fans towards him as they urged this plucky likeable Spaniard to win all before him.
He won the Open Championship three times (1979, 1984 and 1988), and a holder of the snug Masters green jacket twice in 1980 and 1983 but without doubt the best player ever to have played in a Ryder Cup match.
Racking up 20 points from 37 matches, he was the inspirational figurehead of a team and also as a leader, captaining Europe to victory on his home country’s soil in 1997.
But as with all legends of sports who exceed their boundaries, there comes a time when the passion doesn’t fade but the reality of their powers does.
Retiring in 2007, the Spaniard would most likely have been an instrumental weapon by European Tour Golf as a man to promote the game even further in areas of the continent that needed much needed advertisement. He would have been a perfect individual for the role. Sadly the finding of a brain tumour in 2008 saw him battle, as he described it, “a 6th Major” and one which he was unfortunately unable to win.
There was always a hope that the determination and never say die attitude that the man from Pedrena in north Spain brought to the game, would ultimately be the force that would see him beat this battle against cancer. A few rare appearances only reinforced this view.
But Friday’s statement from his family that his health was deteriorating was a sign of things to come as the 54-year-old passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The world of sport has been in a sombre mood of late, first with the passing of snooker commentator, Ted Lowe. Then British boxing’s great fighter, Sir Henry Cooper died last weekend and now Ballesteros.
Ballesteros’ passing has left an undeniable legacy that will forever be etched into European and world golf’s folklore and the great man can rest peacefully knowing that he succeeded and transcended a sport that I once had dismissed and now watch with genuine interest.


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