1 Michael Hogan (in 1920, at Croke Park in Dublin, aged 24)

The most politically influential death in sport. The Gaelic footballer was murdered on Bloody Sunday when British forces and police stormed Croke Park in Dublin. Shots were fired into the crowd of 5000 killing 14 people including Hogan, the one player to die.

The ground, now an impressive 80,000-seat stadium, became a shrine for Irish nationalists. The Hogan Stand, first built in 1924, is named for the fallen Tipperary footballer who had been in the Irish Volunteers, a forerunner to the IRA.

2 Andres Escobar (in 1994, outside a Medillin nightclub, aged 27)

The defender was probably murdered as an underworld reprisal for conceding the own goal against hosts America which eliminated the powerful Colombian team from soccer's 1994 World Cup. The killer, who fired 12 shots, was linked to Colombian crooks and gamblers. Escobar's funeral was attended by 120,000 people, a grief-stricken response to one of sports' saddest and sickest moments.

3 Bob Woolmer (in 2007, in a Jamaican hotel room, aged 58)

The Jamaican police suspected murder, leading onlookers to finger cricket's gambling underworld as the culprit when Pakistan's coach died shortly after his team had lost to Ireland in the World Cup. A storm of controversy erupted. His death has never been satisfactorily explained - natural causes and murder remain the possibilities. The former may be the more likely, yet a few famous cricketers reckoned the latter, which further exposed the terrible truth about cricket's dark underbelly.
© Photo/Supplied
Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire.

4 Pat Tillman (in 2004, in Afghanistan, aged 27)

Tillman, an NFL safety with the Arizona Cardinals, died the way of many sportsmen - in battle. The aftermath was anything but normal. Having been posthumously promoted and decorated for bravery under enemy fire, a top-to-bottom Army cover up was exposed. Tillman, a military poster boy who turned down a massive football contract to enlist, had actually been killed by friendly fire. Just another example of truth being the major casualty of war.

5 Sammy Wanjiru (in 2011, in Kenya, aged 24)

The Olympic marathon champion, who smashed the Games record in Beijing, had a rock star image in Kenya - with a lifestyle to match. A domestic dispute about his womanising led to Wanjiru dying after a mysterious fall from a second-floor balcony this week. Wanjiru busted his Olympic opponents with front-running changes of pace, but is said to have struggled with the changes that fame and riches brought him in a poor country. Respected judges say the world has lost the best-ever marathoner.

6 Payne Stewart (on a plane flying between Orlando and Texas, 1999, aged 42)

The sartorially wild and wonderful American golfer, winner of three majors, was among six people who died on a private jet after the cabin depressurised. This flying tomb, a sort of Mary Celeste of the skies, had Air Force escorts for 2400km before it ran out of fuel and crashed ... a distressingly macabre scene witnessed by a stunned world on TV. Stewart, who suffered from attention deficit disorder, gave golf a jester's exuberance that has not been replaced.

7 Hansie Cronje (in the Outeniqua Mountains, 2002, aged 32)

Cronje led South African cricket out of its wilderness but found his own when exposed as the instigator of a shameful series of match-fixing incidents (although a band of Cronje loyalists remained). With a scheduled flight out of Johannesburg delayed, Cronje grabbed a lift in a turboprop plane that had faulty navigation equipment and smashed into the mountains, killing him and two pilots. A life, career and reputation of great standing ended in pathetic disgrace and tragedy.

8 Jock Stein (at Ninian Park, Cardiff, Wales, 1985, aged 62)

Scotland manager Stein - a giant of soccer - suffered a heart attack and collapsed in the dugout just after a late penalty against Wales kept his side on the road to the 1986 World Cup finals. Stein, Glasgow Celtic manager in 1967 when they became the first British team to win the European Cup, died in a changing room minutes later - a horribly public exposure of the stress top coaches endure. Some around Stein (his assistant was Alex Ferguson) believed he had a premonition about his fate. In the lead-up to the game, Big Jock had not been his usual self - which was indestructible.

9 Peter Blake (on the Seamaster, in Brazil, 2001, aged 53)

Blake, who led New Zealand's capture and defence of the America's Cup, was shot dead as he attempted to ward off pirates with a rifle during an environmental expedition. New Zealand's master round-the-world mariner had survived nature's innumerable threats on the high seas, yet perished in a violent way while at anchor on the Amazon River. We were stunned at the time, and a decade later the news is still sinking in.

10 Jack Lovelock (in New York, 1949, aged 39)

New Zealand's 1936 Olympic 1500m champion never lived to witness this country's remarkable middle-distance running triumphs, success that owed something to his gold medal run at the Berlin Games. Lovelock fell under a train at a subway station because of illness and dizzy spells, although others have put forward a suicide theory. Trapped in a time long ago, his strange and premature death left Lovelock - a man of wide-ranging talents - as an indelible mystery in the national imagination.