Football is the most beloved sport around the world. While American football might claim a bigger share of the country’s attention in the United States, and India and Pakistan are deeply devoted to cricket, football is still the international favorite. Even though scores are typically low, it’s a fast-paced game with constant action and more than enough on-field drama to keep anyone entertained.
Alongside all of the other reasons to enjoy watching football, betting on the sport is hugely popular and adds an extra layer of excitement to every match. Betting on football has been a part of the sport since the early days, and the move to online sports betting has only made it more convenient and accessible to fans who might not previously have felt comfortable going into a retail betting outlet.
Online betting allows fans to have access to the best odds and the most betting markets. The most exciting innovation in sports betting are live betting sites, many of which also offer livestreams of the big matches. Being able to bet on a player or game in action isn’t allowed everywhere but it certainly makes every moment of a game count.
The odds on the star players might not change too dramatically over the course of a single game but underdog or unknown players having a great day might see a huge swing in their odds. Some players naturally attract more betting action than others. These include the big stars of the sport, as well as those with the best goal-scoring records.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most betted-on football stars and teams in history.
Football’s living legend Lionel Messi is nearing the end of his career. He has been a star since his Barcelona first-team debut in 2003. In the 20 years since, he has played a major role in every team he has played for. From 2003-2021, he played for Barcelona, scoring 474 goals in 520 appearances. From 2021-23 he was with Paris Saint-Germain and scored a further 22 goals in 58 appearances, and since July 2023, he has played for Inter Miami and already scored another goal in his first 3 appearances with the MLS team.
Betting on him to score and Barcelona to win were among the top bets during most of Messi’s time with the Spanish team. During the 2022 World Cup, the amount of money bet on Messi was brought into focus due to a promotion by a British sportsbook. Their refusal to payout on a bet that Messi would have three or more shots on goal, based on a technicality, sparked a controversy that became widespread because of how many people had placed money on Messi.
Manchester City striker Erling Halaand is only 23 years old and has already broken the record for the most goals scored in a single Premier League season. The Norwegian youth has shaken up the EPL with his aggressive style of play and impressive dexterity for a player his size.
A bet on Haaland is probably the closest you can get to a sure thing. Bets on Haaland scoring a goal might not pay out much since it’s such a likely occurrence but they’re still very, very likely to pay out. Because of this, Haaland is one of the most bet on footballers playing in the Premier League today.
Whether or not Haaland is on track to outpace Messi and other football greats remains to be seen. For now, we’re all enjoying watching this goal scoring machine in action.
Leicester City, 2015–16
Everyone loves an underdog story and Leicester City gave the world a great one. At the end of the 2007-08 season, Leicester City had been relegated out of the Championship League¾the lowest the team had ever fallen. By 2014, they’d clawed their way back to the Premier League in one of the most impressive turnarounds for a team in British football history.
Despite having made it back to the Premier League, they were still very much considered a lower-tier team. Leading bookmakers initially put the odds of their winning the title for the 2015-16 season at 5,000-1. Loyal fans and bettors with a nose for a big win trusted their instincts and bet on Leicester City to win. They were rewarded with some of the biggest payouts in football betting history, totaling £25 million.
Fulham player Harry Wilson might not be one of the most bet-on footballers in history, but there’s a good chance he was one of the youngest to be bet on. When the future right winger was only 18 months old, his grandfather placed a bet that he would play for the Welsh national team.
In 2013, at only 16 years old, Wilson became the youngest player to represent Wales in an international match. Unsurprisingly, the odds offered on babies tend to be pretty long. Wilson’s grandfather had bet £50 with odds of 2500-1. That faith in his grandson’s future abilities was rewarded with a £125,000 payout. Maybe he should consider a second career as a very early talent spotter!
At the peak of his career, Luis Suarez was known for two things¾being one of the best strikers the game had ever seen and biting his opponents. The biting became such a feature of his on-field persona that he gained the nickname TyrannoSaurez Rex.
Prop bets are bets that are placed on something to happen during a game, rather than on the outcome. During the 2014 World Cup, one of the hottest prop bets was that Suarez would bite another player. The odds were only 175-1, unsurprisingly considering Suarez’s history, and nearly 200 people happily took that bet.
There has been some debate in recent years over whether or not betting on bookings should be banned. This is because it’s very tempting for players to get lured into betting on themselves being booked and then making that happen. Sadly, this means we may never see another prop bet as exciting as the Suarez bite bet.