3 Times Betting On The Underdog Paid Off Huge

Bookmakers in England are sweating the possibility of Leicester City winning the Barclays Premier League title, with some betting outlets facing a payout of more than £5 million ($7.2 million) should Leicester still sit atop the Premier League table come May 16.

Chelsea’s stroll to the Premier League title last season saw most bookies make a handsome profit, but Leicester’s continued defiance of the odds is seeing the potential pay out for sports betting outlets continue to rise. Leicester now stand at 5/1 to win the title. They began the season as 5000/1 underdogs.

Who stands to make the most money off of Leicester’s Cinderella season? One bettor placed £40 on the 5000/1 odds, meaning he stands to make £200,000 ($289,202) if Leicester can continue their dream run. 

One lucky Leicester supporter has already pocketed £5,000 ($7,230) off of a £5 bet. The bet was placed on the 1000/1 chance that Leicester would be top of the table come Christmas. Keval Nakeshree, the man who took the punt, had himself one hell of a festive season.

So, with Leicester City’s against the odds run as our inspiration, here are three other occasions when rooting for the underdogs was smart money.

3 Times Betting On The Underdog Paid Off Huge

#1: Greece Winning EURO 2004

3 Times Betting On The Underdog Paid Off Huge: Greece EURO 2004

Photo: @JimMakosCom | Twitter

A 150/1 bet to win the competition, Greece’s run to become European Champions in 2004 was one of the most unlikely soccer triumphs of all-time. Victories over France, the Czech Republic and the hosts Portugal saw Greece crowned European champions.

The biggest winner? A 34-year-old Burmese bettor in Surrey, England. In the midst of the tournament, he placed €4,000 ($7,300) on the Greeks when they were at 50-1 odds. Five days later, when they now stood at 10-1, he put down another €8,000. On the Sunday afternoon of the final, with Greece the underdogs to beat Portugal, he put down another €12,500 ($22,860).  

Greece beat Portugal 1-0 and his final earnings stood at a remarkable £332,625 ($607,000). A spokesman for the betting company said: “This is one of the biggest winning bets in football betting history. He told us he is in the restaurant trade…he is back at work today but I believe he is considering a holiday - probably in Greece.”

On the whole, Greece’s improbable victory in the tournament was a great thing for bookmakers, with the bookies pocketing over £300 million ($548 million) during the month-long tournament.

#2: Liverpool Winning The 2005 Champions League Final

Liverpool’s remarkable run to becoming European Champions in 2005 was completed on the back of a three-goal comeback to reach the knockout rounds, the defeat of Italian and English champions in the quarterfinals and semi-finals and, finally, the remarkable three-goal comeback against AC Milan in the final.

More than £15 million was wagered on the final, with the industry losing more than £2 million in one of the wildest outcomes in the history of the sport. According to a bookmaker's spokesman, there was a nationwide gamble on Liverpool in England. Down 3-0 at halftime, and with odds as high as 188/1 to complete the comeback, more than 100 people backed the team. One gambler made a profit of $73,000 after the dust had settled. 

The game's biggest loser? One bettor placed a £10,167 bet at halftime, wagering that Milan would go on to win in the regulation 90 minutes. He risked that amount to win only £102. History shows that he lost it all ($14,738). 

The following season, a Liverpool fan named Adrian Hayward had a dream that Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso would score a goal from beyond the midfield line. A bookie gave him 125/1 odds, so Hayward placed a £200 bet. Cue the following:

Hayward collected £25,000 (nearly $40,000). Easy money, no?

#3: Hellas Verona Winning The 1985 Serie A Title

3 Times Betting On The Underdog Paid Off Huge: Hellas Verona 1985

Photo: @GregLeaFootball | Twitter

Outside of the usual names from Milan, Turin and Rome, Italy’s list of league champions is exceedingly sparse. Clubs from these traditionally dominant footballing cities are seen as having been given preferential treatment by referees over the years, a viewpoint which has been backed by the numerous match fixing scandals which have plagued Italian football.

In the 1980s, a betting syndicate that had been paying players to rig results was uncovered –  a massive scandal which saw 33 individuals charged with fraud and resulted in both Lazio and AC Milan being relegated to Serie B – and resulted in massive changes for the 1984/85 season. 

Instead of allowing the Italian FA to decide which referees would be paired with which matches, the match officials were randomly selected. This would be the only season with this procedure - the following campaign saw a return to old ways and the return of Juventus to the winner's podium.

However, the 1984/85 Serie A season is viewed by many as one of the most fairly contested during that controversial era. Using just 17 players all season, and losing only two matches, the unfashionable club from Verona piped Michel Platini’s Juventus and Diego Maradona’s Napoli to their first and only title to date. 

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