Belgium v Wales - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Grandfather wins near-$200,000 when grandson appears for Wales

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When 16-year-old Harry Wilson appeared for Wales on Tuesday, he not only became the youngest player to appear for his country, he also won his grandfather £125,000.

That’s how much Peter Edwards, Wilson’s 62-year-old grandfather, made off a 2,500-to-1 wager placed in 2000. The electrical contractor bet his then-18-month-old grandson would one day appear for his national team. When the Liverpool academy star came off Chris Coleman’s bench in the 87th minute against Belgium, that £50 wager financed Edwards’ early retirement.

“I retired immediately,” Edwards said. “I told my manager yesterday that if Harry plays I wouldn’t be coming back.”

“I’ve retired one year early. I have come home now and will not be going back. Not bad for a daft bet.”

Sure, the bet looks good now, but when he put that £50 own on an 18-month-old, it was as good as gone. But at 12, Wilson enrolled in Liverpool’s academy, where his development progressed quickly, at which time Edwards attempted to put even more money on his grandson’s potential success.

“Harry was about 12 then. But they (William Hill) turned me down and said I already had a substantial bet with them.”

It’s a wager William Hill will surely be chagrined to be paying out, but if anything, they’re getting off easy. At 2,500-to-1, Edwards took very short odds on an 18-month-old’s changes to play for Wales. In a country of three million people, the odds of playing for the national team should have been much longer.

But Edwards’ bet wasn’t about being rational. It was a whim.

“He used to chase the ball around the front room on his hands and knees even before he could walk, that’s what gave me the idea. But I hoped the bet would come up.”

On Tuesday, that hope came good, but I wouldn’t feel too bad for William Hill on this one. Not only is it hard to have too much sympathy for a big money broker, but can you imagine how many hopeful grandfathers around Great Britain have read Edwards’ story and decided to give some money to their local bookies?

In the long run, William Hill may make money off the whole thing. That is, after all, what bookies do.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.