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.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.