John Walton / PA via AP
Wales soccer coach Chris Coleman gives instructions to Harry Wilson as he prepares to join the game - a move that won his grandfather $200,000.
LONDON - It was a simple of act of faith that paid a handsome return. A delighted grandfather announced his retirement Wednesday after banking more than $200,000 on a bet that his grandson would one day play international soccer for his home country.
Peter Edwards made the $80 bet in January 2000 when Harry Wilson was just 18-months old.
He secured odds of 2,500-1 for the wager after watching the toddler chase a ball around the family home in the small town of Corwen in north Wales, part of the United Kingdom.
“It was spur of the moment,” the 62-year-old told NBC News' U.K. partner, ITV News. “He was crawling after the ball in the living room, so I just thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put a bet on that he might play for Wales.”
He added that he had to call the London headquarters of betting firm William Hill in order to place the bet.
His persistence was rewarded on Tuesday night when Wilson, now 16, was introduced in the second half of a game against Belgium.
It was not only a lucrative family moment, but also one for the record-books: Wilson is the youngest man ever to play for Wales.
The teenager regularly plays for Liverpool F.C., the English Premier League club owned by Boston Red Sox owner John W. Henry.
Edwards, an electrical engineer, told The Guardian newspaper that he works away from home most of the year, spending only one weekend in three, with wife Dorothy, 58.
After nervously watching Tuesday's game on his iPad, he said he knew he’d worked his last day.
“I retired immediately,” he told the paper. “I told my manager yesterday that if Harry plays I wouldn't be coming back. “I've retired one year early.”
Refraining from the tradition of swapping kit with his opponents at the end of the game, the youngster instead proudly presented his match shirt to his grandparents, the Daily Post newspaper, reported.
A spokesman for the betting firm William Hill said the company was pleased to pay out.
“Mr Edwards has been able to quit his job as a result of his amazing ability to spot fledgling talent earlier than almost anyone else we've ever taken a bet from,” said Graham Sharpe.
Sharpe added that, prior to Tuesday, Wilson had also been eligible to play for England because his grandmother had been born there. “If England had snapped him up this bet would have been a loser,” he said.
First published October 17 2013, 8:35 AM