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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 May 2005, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Martin Johnson: Six of the best
Martin Johnson celebrates with the World Cup trophy
Johnson won 84 England caps
The career of arguably England's greatest-ever player came to an end at Twickenham on Saturday.

Martin Johnson led out his beloved Leicester for the final time in the Zurich Premiership final against Wasps, but there was no fairytale ending.

Defeat was an ill-fitting way to end a career of unprecedented achievement, featuring 84 caps over 11 years for England, three British & Irish Lions tours including two as captain, two Grand Slams and a World Cup.

He also led the Tigers to back-to-back Heineken Cup triumphs in 2001 and 2002, won five domestic league titles including four in a row as skipper, and two domestic cups.

We look back at the games that made Johnson great.


England 16-15 France, 16 January 1993

Johnson was due to play in a Friday night B international when he was summoned to Twickenham as an 11th-hour replacement for the injured Wade Dooley.

The rookie lock had a 20-minute emergency line-out session with the rest of the England pack before running out for his Test debut.

An early clash of heads with French prop Laurent Seigne left Johnson momentarily concussed but he recovered and played superbly in England's victory.

Later that year he scored the winning try in Leicester's Pilkington Cup final win over Harlequins and played for the British Lions against New Zealand.


South Africa 15-18 British Lions, 28 June 1997

Johnson was a surprise appointment as Lions captain ahead of emerging star Lawrence Dallaglio, who took the England reins on his return from South Africa.

Martin Johnson celebrates the Lions' second Test win in South Africa with South Africa
Victory with the Lions in South Africa
But coach Ian McGeechan's choice proved an inspired one as the tourists swept to a 25-16 win in the opening Test in Cape Town.

The second at Durban's Kings Park was a classic backs-to-the-wall effort, with Johnson at the heart of a heroic forwards display.

Jeremy Guscott's winning drop-goal saw Johnson become only the second man to lead the Lions to a series win in South Africa.


Stade Francais 30-34 Leicester, 19 May, 2001

Leicester had already clinched the third of four successive English titles but had failed to reach the Heineken Cup knock-out stages for the past two years.

Stade, with the benefit of a partisan home crowd at the Parc des Princes, started the final as favourites and led 15-9 at half-time.

But with Johnson urging his side on, the Tigers roared back to clinch a memorable triumph as Austin Healey's break sent Leon Lloyd over for a brilliant match-winning score.

Not content with that, Leicester went on to claim back-to-back European crowns with victory over Munster in 2002.


New Zealand 13-15 England, 14 June 2003

With England defending a slender lead at Wellington's Westpac Stadium, their hopes of a first win in New Zealand for 30 years looked to be over when Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back were both sin-binned.

England captain Martin Johnson makes a point
Johnson points the way to victory
But with the All Blacks awarded several scrums close to the England line, Johnson ordered his five remaining forward comrades to "get down and shove".

"You saw Martin Johnson at his absolute best in that 10-minute period," said coach Clive Woodward. "His leadership was just inspirational."

Asked after England's victory what was going through his head as he packed down, Johnson replied: "My spine."


Australia 14-25 England, 21 June 2003

England, after a week of southern hemisphere back-biting over the manner of their win in New Zealand, confounded their critics in rampant style.

And Johnson delivered a monumental performance at Melbourne's Telstra Dome, his handling and running making huge dents in the Wallabies defence.

He was involved three times in one of England's three tries, and steadied the ship when Australia threatened a second-half comeback.

John Eales, who led the Wallabies to World Cup glory in 1999, called Johnson's display "among the best ever by a lock forward".


Australia 17-20 England, 22 November 2003

Martin Johnson celebrates the moment of World Cup victory
The moment of World Cup victory
Johnson, like all great players, delivered when the stakes were at their highest and arguably saved his best England game for last.

His performance in the World Cup final was exceptional - dominant in the line-out and brutally effective in the tight exchanges.

When England threatened to lose a game they should have won handsomely, he galvanised his troops for one final push.

Clear-headed enough to set up the winning position in the 100th minute, his leadership brought ultimate glory.



SEE ALSO
Johnson cool over coaching plans
30 Jan 05 |  English
The ultimate England warrior
17 Jan 04 |  Rugby Union
'The heartbeat of the team'
17 Jan 04 |  Rugby Union
Johnson's career in pictures
17 Jan 04 |  Photo Galleries
England win Rugby World Cup
22 Nov 03 |  Internationals
Woodward hails captain Johnson
22 Jun 03 |  Internationals
England clinch historic victory
21 Jun 03 |  Internationals


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