Recent research indicates football is getting more predictable, with the top teams across Europe winning their leagues by bigger margins. However, one of the beauties of football is its ability to surprise and this is unlikely to change. In this article we look at some of the football predictions – both miraculous and acutely embarrassing, which will go down in history.
After Manchester City won the old First Division in 1968, Allison, then the club’s assistant manager boasted that “We’ll terrify the cowards of Europe.”
City proved less than terrifying as they were knocked out of the first round of the European Cup by Fenerbahce.
If your predictions have consistently failed to come true you are in good company. Pele, three time World Cup winner, is a charming man but an appalling pundit.
Widely regarded as the greatest player ever, Pele predicted an African winner of the World Cup by 2002 (sadly far from the mark), Colombia to win USA 94, Nick Barmby to be a star on a par with Roberto Baggio by 1995 and Nii Lamptey to be his successor.
With England facing a do-or-die World Cup qualifier against Poland in October 1973, managing genius Clough reassured the nation that the Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski was “a circus clown in gloves.”
Unfortunately, Tomaszewski produced what is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeeping displays of all time – almost single-handedly holding England at bay and earning Poland a 1-1 draw at Wembley and a place in World Cup finals where they lost out to eventual winners West Germany in the semi-finals.
Former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen entered the prediction Hall of Shame when he said of Manchester United’s young squad in August 1995 “You can’t win anything with kids.”
Unfortunately for Hansen, the kids in question included David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt and by the end of the season they had won a Premier League and FA Cup double.
Prior to a September 2001 World Cup qualifier between Germany and England, Germany legend Uli Hoeness made a firm prediction: “How are England going to win in Germany. It hasn’t happened for 100 years. I have no doubts whatsoever that Germany will quite clearly thrash England. They will easily qualify for the World Cup with this match.” Of course, a Michael Owen hat-trick and goals from Gerrard and Heskey gave England a 5-1 win.
Pearce earned himself a place in the Hall of Shame when he decided to lay into new Arsenal signing Dennis Bergkamp, one of the most skilful and efficient players to have graced the Premier League.
“He made no impression at Inter, so the guy is now trying a different country in the hope it might suit him better. I would have taken Stan Collymore ahead of Bergkamp, even for £1m more. Liverpool have got a better deal than Arsenal.”
Venables was one of the most successful players and managers of his generation, but before the 2009 Champions League final he told viewers, “Messi is wonderful on the right but Ronaldo is terrific on the right, the left and through the middle as well. He also scores goals with his head, which Messi couldn’t do even if they put a top hat on him.”
Inevitably Messi scored a brilliant headed goal as Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Leicester City’s 2015-16 Premier League title win is probably the greatest footballing miracle any of us will see in our life times and unsurprisingly gave rise to a couple of spectacular predictions on our list.
In July 2015 Dietmar Hamann tweeted, “Can’t believe Leicester appointed Ranieri, Great club, great fanbase but I’m afraid MK rather Old Trafford season after next.”
At the beginning of the season, the odds of Leicester City winning the title were on a par with Elvis being found alive but a number of punters made the bet anyway with one anonymous punter winning £200,000 on a£100 bet when Leicester were priced at 2000-1. Leicester City’s win also reportedly represented the biggest ever loss for UK bookmakers on a single market.
In terms of winnings the most successful football prediction may be kitchen fitter Daman Chick’s prediction that Eder would score the first goal in the Euro 2016 final on 84 minutes. As it turned out, Eder didn’t score until the 109th minute but Chick’s prediction was closest and he won a £1 million on a betting promotion into which he had been entered automatically due to having placed a £5 bet.
In terms of greatest winning odds, the most successful prediction may be from Manchester United fan and roofer Mick Gibbs who won a 1,666,666-1 15-event accumulator in 2001.
In August 2000 his predictions included:
- The season champions of the 5 top English Leagues
- The season champions of the three lower Scottish divisions
- Leicester to win the rugby union Premiership
- Gloucester to win the NatWest Trophy
- Arsenal, Hibernian and Falkirk to win matches of August 21/22
The final success of his accumulator depended on Bayern Munich winning the Champions League final. In the event, Gibbs was too nervous to watch the game as the German side came from behind to win on penalties and the lucky punter pocketed the bookies’ maximum of £500,000 from a total lay out of £388.80 plus tax..