Football has the kind of global popularity that goes over and above almost every other sport. So it’s hardly surprising that it’s also one of the most popular sports among gamblers. Online and offline football betting represents a spectacularly large and lucrative industry worldwide, with vast sums of cash changing hands before, during and after every football match.
For most football fans, simply throwing a few quid on the line here and there to spice up the action is more than sufficient. On occasion, some of the more dedicated gamblers decide to up the ante with a slightly larger flutter. Right on the other end of the spectrum, you have those who’ve taken things to extremes…and in some instances walked away with life-changing wins.
While there are never any certainties, sports betting has the potential to pay out like nothing else out there. It can also be incredibly unpredictable and downright cruel.
Just to illustrate exactly how insane football betting can be, check out the following six mind-blowing bets that earned their rightful place in the history books:
- The £417k World Cup Wager
Cast your mind back to the 2010 World Cup and you may remember little other than a horrifying noise of the much-lamented vuvuzela. It wasn’t the most eventful tournament in recent history, though for one punter would prove to be a painful experience to say the least. Understandably wishing to remain anonymous, the punter was 100% convinced that Germany would annihilate Spain in their semi-final clash. To such an extent that he put a whopping £417,000 on the line, which would have earned him £800,000 if he’d been right.
He was wrong.
The worst part being that he was still headed for a payout until the 73rd minute, when a late goal by Carles Puyol robbed him of every penny. To this day, it remains the biggest sum of cash even blown on a single football bet.
- £2.50 Bet Wins £272,000
Placing a £2.50 bet on a 9-match accumulator is a little like buying a lottery ticket. The actual odds of winning may be astronomical, but there’s always the chance it could happen. For one incredibly lucky Ladbrokes customer back in 2011, this proved to be exactly the case.
Further lowering his likelihood of winning a penny, the unnamed punter also backed a handful of teams that were almost guaranteed to lose. It was almost as if he’d gone out of his way to set up the entire 9-match accumulator for complete and total disaster. Much to his surprise – not to mention everyone else’s – the whole thing turned out to be right on the money.
He walked away with more than a quarter of a million pounds, from nothing more than his initial £2.50 bet.
- £4,400 African Nations Cup Betting Fail
In terms of moronic bets, this takes some beating. Having identified the apparent impossibility of Mali beating Angola in the 2010 African Nations Cup, a student figured he may as well profit at the latter team’s misfortune. The odds were pretty terrible, given that the likelihood of Mali winning were borderline zero. So, he went ahead and put his entire £4,400 student loan on the line, expecting to pocket a modest profit of £440.
12 minutes before the final whistle, Angola was ahead by four goals. During the following 10 minutes, Mali scored four times, forcing a simply unbelievable draw. Not only did he lose his entire student loan, he also discovered that he’d read the odds completely wrong.
Even if he had won, he’d have only taken home a profit of £44.
- The £25k Xabi Alonso Bet
One ambitions punter approached his local bookmaker in 2006 with an extremely specific and unusual request. Having noted Xabi Alonso’s apparent ability to score from the most ridiculous distances, he asked if he could place a bet of £200 on a goal being scored from within his own half. Given the unlikeliness of it occurring by the end of the current season, the bookmaker gave the punter odds of 125 to 1.
Incredibly, his prediction turned out to be right. Xabi Alonso scored from his own half during a clash with Luton, resulting in the punter pocketing a massive five-figure sum and a lifetime’s supply of smugness.
- Pensioner Cruelly Denied £1 Million
Perhaps the saddest entry to the list, a Welsh pensioner once came within touching-distance of pocketing £1 million, having only wagered £1 in the first place.
The unlucky chap had accurately guessed the outcomes of 14 matches over the course of a single weekend, needing 15 in a row to net him the million. The final match saw Manchester United face-off against Liverpool – his prediction of a victory for Manchester falling flat at the last minute.
On the plus side, he did walk away with £72,000 in his pocket, so it really wasn’t a bad weekend on the whole.
- £1 Million From a £5 Wager
The more specific you’re willing to be with your wagers, the more you can expect to win if you get it right. In the case of one Daman Chick – formerly a kitchen fitter from the UK – he placed a modest £5 wager on an extremely specific and unlikely eventuality. His money was on Portugal’s Eder scoring the winner in the 109thminute of the Euro 2016 Final against France.
Unbelievably, that’s exactly what happened. Instantly turning his £5 wager into a cool £1 million.
When you read about punters making small fortune from even the smallest bets, it’s hard not to be tempted to follow their examples. Unfortunately, the above list doesn’t take into account the tens of millions of punters who kiss goodbye to their hard-earned cash on a daily basis.
Still, as a somewhat more exciting alternative to picking up a lottery ticket, entering into a bonkers football wager from time to time can be hugely enjoyable. You just need to gauge your expectations accordingly, as at least in a statistical sense, your odds of winning are close to zero.