Smart football bettors know that the key to winning long-term is to making consistent and controlled bets.

But those that have won huge amounts of cash in one go know that sometimes you just have let your gut take you on a wild ride and throw down a small amount on a huge accumulator or lay a big sum out there and hope for the best.

Such is the case with those on our list of some of the biggest bets in football ever.

Mali-ficent Luck

This first bet may not be the biggest in terms of amount wagered or won on our list, but it certainly had some of the biggest odds. In a classic case of “how many times did he try to place this kind of bet before actually winning?”, Angola was leading Mali 4-0 in the 78th minute at the 2010 African Cup of Nations. That’s when one bettor decided it would be a great time to bet 6 € at 1,000-1 odds that Mali would come back and draw.

Caption: Mali’s four goals in 16 minutes at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations won one lucky bettor 5,600 €. (Source: TheGuardian.com)
Mali’s four goals in 16 minutes at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations won one lucky bettor 5,600 €. (Source: TheGuardian.com)

Shortly after that moment of brilliance, Mali would score their first goal of the day, in the 79th minute. And then another in the 88th. And then two more in injury time, tying the game at 4-4 and winning the lucky punter 5,600 €.

Bony Breakdown

Warning: not all the bets on this list are feel good stories. Such is the case with Arsenal supporter Kevin Wint in 2014. Wint was just minutes away from winning 210,000 € in a 14-match FA Cup accumulator/parlay as part of Coral’s Football Jackpot contest. Normally the Arsenal supporter probably would have paid money to see Manchester United lose, but on this night Wint needed his enemies to defeat Swansea at Old Trafford. A sure thing, right?

But lest we forget that this was Manchester United’s worst season in decades. After tying the game back at 1-1 in just the 16th minute, the Swans’ Wilfried Bony scored a 90th minute goal to give his club their first ever win at the Theatre of Dreams. So, while Wint didn’t hit the six-digit pay day, he still received a consolation prize for hitting 14 of 15 – a nice 13,800 €.

The Leicester Effect

Lots of people made a lot of money in Leicester’s magical run to the Premiership title, however only a handful of them were forward-thinking enough to bet on the Foxes in the beginning of the season when they were around 5,000:1 odds.

A few punters were smart (or biased) enough to place bets on Leicester to win the Prem at 5000/1 odds. (Source: TheSun.co.uk)
A few punters were smart (or biased) enough to place bets on Leicester to win the Prem at 5000/1 odds. (Source: TheSun.co.uk)

At Ladbrokes’ online sportsbook alone, three punters buy the bet at those odds, eventually winning them 56,000 €, 37,000 € and 7,800 €. The sportsbook estimates that altogether the Foxes lifting the title cost them around 3,3 million Euros. So impactful was the unpredictable win on sportsbooks everywhere, some say they won’t ever be offering longshot futures odds like that again. However, the enormous wins led to an increase in the popularity of online sports betting and casino games in general where people tried their luck of winning real-money prizes.

 Accumulator Absurdities

What would you do with 560,000 €? Better yet, what would you do with 30 pence? Back in 2001, one anonymous UK better decided to wager just that amount on a 15-event accumulator bet that carried 1,666,666:1 odds. The 50-some year-old man not only successfully predicted the winners of a number of eight different football leagues, but also the champions of the rugby union Premiership, the country cricket championship, rugby’s NatWest trophy, and also a few individual EPL and SPL matches.

After his first 14 picks, the reported Manchester United fan was left pulling desperately for Bayern Munich to knock off Valencia in the 2001 Champions League Final. That match of course went to penalties, and both Bayern and the bettor’s heart managed to survive: Bayern won 5-4 and the man won 560,000 €. Perhaps most remarkable was that this familiar territory for the bettor: just two years prior, he won 176,000 € on a 2.80 € accumulator bet.

How to Turn 1 € into 656,000 €

Putting micro wagers on large accumulator bets is a fun pastime of many, even if they know the odds of it actually hitting are astronomical. But don’t tell that to the 41-year old that put 85p on 19 English football matches in November 2011 and won. Like the bettor before, this one also needed to be clinched in dramatic fashion after the first 18 bets successfully hit.

Glen Johnson made one lucky bettor extremely happy against Chelsea in 2011. (Source: Telegraph.co.uk)
Glen Johnson made one lucky bettor extremely happy against Chelsea in 2011. (Source: Telegraph.co.uk)

That decisive match was Liverpool at Chelsea, and to make his 683,738-1 wager pay out, the man needed the Reds to come out with a big road win at Stamford Bridge. The match looked headed for a draw until the 87th minute, when Glen Johnson slipped in a goal against his former club to give Liverpool a win that perhaps paled in comparison to this lucky bettors’.

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