How I picked Spain to win Euro 2008

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If you are expecting to read another account of how someone was genius enough to make the right call on who would win Euro 2008, don’t worry. This isn’t quite that kind of story.

I’ll be the first to point out that plenty of people picked Spain, which came into the tournament as third choice according to oddsmakers. My story is about when I first picked Spain.

It was a January night in New York City and I was in town for a watch party for the USA/Sweden friendly when first pressed for my pick on a Euro 08 winner. I made my pick, and made a bet, and more than five months later I’m set to collect on my bet with a soccer fan on the other side of the world.

The bet didn’t take place at the USA/Sweden watch party itself, which was hosted by the Empire Supporter’s Group and attended by newly-minted Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio. It took place afterward, in the bar where the party was held. As I ordered a drink and watched some highlights of the USA-Sweden game I met two guys from Sweden who were in the USA on vacation and who noticed me watching the soccer highlights.

They hadn’t even watched the soccer game (as one of them rightly pointed out, none of Sweden’s best players were there so it was a pretty meaningless game). After talking a bit about their trip (they were die-hard hockey fans in town to watch NHL games), the subject of Euro 08 somehow came up. One of the Swedes, named Ulf, asked me for my pick and after carefully considering the field (and finishing off about my sixth Jack and Coke) I went with Spain. Even after being reminded that they never win anything, I still liked my pick.

When I pressed Ulf for his pick he chose none other than Germany, a pick I didn’t think was that great. I didn’t rate the Germans under head coach Joachim Low and let’s face it, does Michael Ballack ever win trophies? After some banter about our picks, Ulf and I agreed to a small wager on who would win the final, with the tie-breaker being which of our teams got the furthest in the tournament. The bet was a modest $10 (which is pocket change these days when you convert it to Euros). I gave Ulf my email address and told him the bet was on.

I never thought I’d hear from Ulf again, but sure enough, a few days later, there was the email from Sweden reminding me of the wager. He reminded me again earlier this month, and suddenly I found myself rooting that much harder for Spain (not for the $10 mind you, but for the bragging rights that would come with picking the tourney winner five months in advance.) It didn’t really dawn on my until after the quarterfinals that our picks might actually meet (at least not until an email from Ulf following Germany’s win against Portugal.)

I’ll give the Swede credit. After Spain’s win, Ulf congratulated me and will be sending me a souvenir from Sweden. I’ll be sure to keep it displayed prominently somewhere as a reminder of that bet.

Did you win a Euro bet as well (and I mean a friendly wager, not one involving a bookie or website)? Share your story below.

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7 Responses to How I picked Spain to win Euro 2008

  1. Ben says:

    I won about $40 in a pool with some friends. The amazing thing about it is that my house was robbed during the tourney and the prize money was hanging on a wall beside paper plates with each teams’ names (yea it was pretty cheap looking)… and they didn’t steal it! So my money will go towards a new TV. Thank You Spain!

  2. hincha tim says:

    I also bet for Spain against a friend who had picked Italy. We had a similar tie breaker as you did, so I won easily (well, I guess by penalty kicks). My prize? Winner was going to take the loser to the Real Madrid-RSL game, but then that game got cancelled so now I “get” to be taken to the RSL-Santos Laguna match. Not quite the same.

  3. nicholas s. says:

    no, but I did declare to a group of friends that the US would beat Barbados 8-0… should have put a wager on it.

  4. Neal says:

    Since we’re bragging here, on facebook there is an application where you can pick the games.

    The #1 person picked 24 of the 31 games correctly. I’m currently tied for 2nd place with 10 or so others.

    56,000 people made picks. So I feel like a baller.

    I also picked a Spain vs. Germany final with Spain winning on the facebook app before the tournament started.

    Think you can hook me up with a soccer journalist job Ives? :D

  5. ag nigrin says:

    I picked Turkey! I know they didn’t win but their games were hands down the most exciting!

  6. Gene says:

    I didn’t quite win the pool, but I did pick Spain to make it to the final. Also, Russia, the team I was rooting for, defied my own expectations by making it to the semifinal (I picked them to lose in 1/4).

  7. David Berger says:

    Great story!