18 of the most embarrassing football predictions ever

Lionel Messi

Eating rats, doubting Lionel Messi and Mark Lawrenson losing face – pre-season means prediction time, and these went badly wrong

Charles Dayot vs PSG

Don’t worry, we’d never heard of the mayor of Mont-de-Marsan (a pretty town on the edge of the Gascogne national park in south-west France) either. That was until he said he'd “eat a rat” if PSG didn’t reach the Champions League quarter-finals after beating Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of their last 16 tie last season.

Good to his word, after Sergi Roberto’s 95th-minute winner, Dayot chowed down on some rodent this July in front of the town. Good lad.

I think I smell a rat

Mark Lawrenson vs Bolton

Before rat-eating mayors came Lawro and his lip-tickler of doom. When the BBC pundit condemned the Trotters to an immediate return to Division One at the beginning of the 2001/02 season, a four-strong group of Bolton fans – including FFT’s very own Gary Parkinson – challenged him to put his famous 25-year-old moustache where his mouth was.

Sam Allardyce’s side stayed up and Lawro had his tache shaved off at a fancy London barbers for charity, despite the proud Prestonian’s initial fears his two-year-old son Sam wouldn’t recognise him. Lawro’s top lip has remained naked ever since.

Lawro dreams of his mustachioed days

Pele vs everyone

Where do you start with the three-time World Cup winner’s barmy sooth-saying? To date, O Rei has predicted an African winner of the World Cup by 2002 (nope), Colombia to win USA 94 (finished bottom of the group, defender Andres Escobar tragically shot dead back home) and Nick Barmby to be a world star to rival Roberto Baggio by 1995 (he was playing for Middlesbrough).

Perhaps best of all, however, is: “Nii Lamptey is my successor,” after watching the future PSV, Aston Villa and Coventry forward star at the 1991 U17 World Cup for Ghana.

Pele

Pele: good at winning the World Cup, not so good at telling you who will win it

Dietmar Hamann vs Leicester

“Can’t believe Leicester appointed Ranieri,” tweeted the former Liverpool midfielder just after Don Claudio took the King Power reins in July 2015. “Great club, great fanbase but I’m afraid MK rather Old Trafford season after next.”

Fast-forward 12 months and the Foxes were Premier League champions and MK Dons had been relegated. Come on, Didi, who in their right mind would’ve predicted Leicester to go down?

Ah.

Erm, this must have been a *different* FourFourTwo magazine...

Alan Hansen vs Manchester United

The granddaddy of them all. “You can’t win anything with kids,” became a catchphrase which has followed the former Liverpool defender ever since he predicted a tough season for Manchester United after an opening-day 3-1 reverse in August 1995.

“Aston Villa, at 2.15pm when they got the teamsheet, it’s just going to give them a lift and it’ll happen every time he plays the kids. He’s got to buy players. It’s as simple as that. The trick to winning the championship is to have strength in depth. They just haven’t got it,” proclaimed Hansen on Match of the Day.

Those 'kids' were David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt. By the end of 1995/96, Mancester United had won a Premier League and FA Cup double.

Pages