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The top underdog moments in football history

Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Football is one of the most thrilling sports there is when it comes to underdogs. Here are some famous stories

Who doesn’t love an underdog story? Football is one of the most thrilling sports there is when it comes to underdogs. Over the course of 90 minutes, with 22 players on the pitch, who really knows what is going to happen?

Throughout the history of the sport, there have been some truly unbelievable moments, and upsets in cup competitions, in one-off fixtures and overall in competitions. In this guide, we’re exploring some of the top underdog tales.

Of course, backing an underdog also gives the everyday punter the chance to potentially win big with the bookmakers. There are many sportsbooks like bet365 offering markets on outright competitions and matches, and if you can call an underdog or two, it can be a big opportunity.

Leicester wins the Premier League

When Claudio Ranieri took over Leicester, there were some raised eyebrows. The idea of them beating Liverpool as convincingly as they did in his first game now is quite out there, but this incredible team went on to do some crazy things.

On the 2nd of May 2016, the team won the championship. All the stars seemed to align, with clubs such as Manchester United struggling with new eras, and Jurgen Klopp yet to implement his ideas within the Liverpool dressing room, the points total for the league was very low.

To put this into perspective for those who can’t remember, or don’t watch a lot of Premier League football, the team was assembled for around £30m. In the modern age, it is not uncommon to see that sort of fee paid for a single player.

In fact, clubs such as Manchester United were, at the same time, spending hundreds of millions on players like Paul Pogba, who did not go on to scale the heights expected.

Rags-to-riches tales such as those of former non-league star Jamie Vardy and relative unknowns at the time such as Riyad Mahrez going on to drive the team to an unthinkable feat will never be forgotten.

Leicester was a 5,000 to one shot going into the season, and a few lucky gamblers even bet on this as an outcome.

Greece wins Euro 2004

A good decade before the Leicester team was assembled – Greece would cause a similar level of upset on the international stage.

In 2004, the Portugal squad was one of the favourites to win the competition, as the Euros were hosted in the country, and their squad was one of the very best, featuring legends such as Luis Figo and Deco, and even a young talent by the name of Ronaldo.

The hosts were upset in the tournament by a Greek team who would actually beat them in both the group stage and then again as they made their miraculous run to the final.

They beat giants France, and the Czech Republic in narrow games, and their clever system allowed them to defend like Greek gods as they stunned European football and stopped the hosts from taking a title their fans felt sure would be theirs.

Denmark wins Euro 1992

The Greek shocker was not the first time the Euros had led to summer drama with an underdog winning the tournament.

Denmark’s victory in 1992 was a crazy underdog story for a few reasons. They were only at the tournament due to Yugoslavia being banned from taking part due to war in their country.

They only found this out 11 days before the first match kicked off. This gave them very little time to get their squad together and prepare.

Denmark didn’t originally qualify, and they didn’t even win their group, as they finished second to Sweden. They played the Netherlands in the knockout stages and beat Germany to win the tournament, just two years after they had won the World Cup.

Nottingham Forest winning the First Division (and plenty more)

This is a pretty crazy story, and the more you dive in, the more you realise what a mad achievement this was.

In 1977, the team had scraped their way into the old First Division as they finished third in the Second Division by a solitary point.

The achievements of Brian Clough have become legendary, as the charismatic manager led the team to an unbelievable level of success, winning the top flight the following season. Imagine a team getting promoted and winning the Premier League in their first season, it’s quite unthinkable.

There were some iconic players on the team who would go on to have really incredible careers. Some were plucked from absolute obscurity.

John McGovern, for example, had been playing for Drumchapel Amateurs in Scotland. He wasn’t even a professional footballer before his move to Forest.

The squad was littered with those kinds of stories, and even more incredibly, the team went on to win the European Cup for the next two seasons. They are one of only two English teams to win this competition in consecutive years.

North Korea 1-0 Italy

Most Englishmen remember the 1966 World Cup with fondness, but their story of victory had a strange subplot of North Korea dumping out one of their main competitors, the two-time victor Italy.

Italy was stunned by the virtually unknown North Korean team, with Pak Doo-ik scoring the only goal of the game. The Italians were pelted with tomatoes on their return home. The team had some incredible talents but could not break down the Koreans who won the game 1-0.

They even led in the quarter final against Portugal, but would eventually succumb to four goals from Eusebio, who proved himself to be a generational talent.


This is one of the things about football that we simply all love. Once in a while, we get these crazy tales of an underdog shocking the world.

Whether it’s a one-off game where the minnows just happen to have the upper hand, or the team manages to catch lightning in a bottle and has a full season of incredible results, similar to Leicester in 2015-16, these stories keep us all engaged.

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