A Trowbridge punter was one football result away from winning £1 million on Wednesday and surprisingly the team that let him down was Lionel Messi’s Barcelona.
Simon Pike, 20, entered a free nationwide competition run by betting company Coral to become a millionaire by predicting the correct scores of all the first legs of the Champions League last 16 matches.
Wednesday was the last night of matches and Mr Pike was the only person out of the 70,000 who entered with a chance of winning the cash, correctly predicting all the results to that point, but unfortunately his prediction for Barcelona to beat AC Milan 2-0 didn’t come in with the Spanish giants losing 2-0.
As a gesture of goodwill, Mr Pike has been given an all-expenses paid trip by Coral, to Barcelona to watch the return leg at the Nou Camp.
Chelsea fan Mr Pike, of Cavendish Drive, said: “I was really gutted about the £1 million but I was trying not to get overexcited as nothing was ever guaranteed and it was a free bet, so I’m happy to get something out of it and I’m looking forward to going to the Nou Camp.
“I’ve only ever been to watch Swindon Town so I’m so excited to be going out to Spain for the second leg at a massive stadium, I don’t mind who wins but I might have a soft spot for Milan because of the bet.”
In the build-up to the final round of fixtures Mr Pike’s Twitter account went into a frenzy with former footballer Gary Lineker giving him a good luck message while past player Robbie Savage and Marseille midfielder Joey Barton both retweeted his exploits.
Mr Pike, who works for Sleep on Ltd at a Westbury factory making beds for Comfy Living, was allowed to leave early to watch the game at The Hungry Horse Long’s Arms.
He said: “I’ve had people asking me to give them tips, pick their euro lottery numbers and a few tipping websites have been in touch asking me to be a guest pundit.
“I never go over the top, but the one dream I had if I’d have won the money was to start my own business, I had plans to open my own nightclub.”
The second leg of the Champions League tie is in Spain on March 12 and Mr Pike will be taking a friend to watch the game.
Coral cluster support manager Joanne Deighton said: “It was fantastic for Simon to get to this stage of the competition, to have seven of the eight scores correct is so good and Barcelona would have been the odds-on choice out of the majority of them.”