Britain loves to back the underdog - and here are the greatest of all time

The Leicester City squad is among Britains best-loved underdogs of all time.The Leicester City squad is among Britains best-loved underdogs of all time.
The Leicester City squad is among Britains best-loved underdogs of all time.
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, Del Boy and the current Leicester City squad are among Britain's best-loved underdogs of all time.

A new poll has revealed the top 20 teams, characters and athletes we’ve rooted for against the odds.

Susan Boyle and the Jamaican Bobsleigh team also feature in the top five of the poll of 2,000 people for Ladbrokes, with other fictional characters like Tom Hanks’ film role as Forrest Gump, Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, and dancer Billy Elliot also among the nation’s favourite underdogs.

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Paul Potts’ journey from mobile phone manager to opera singer also struck a chord, while Jamie Vardy’s journey from non-league football to top flight glory and international recognition saw him reach 15th on the list.

Legendary racehorse Seabiscuit also making the top 20, while Sylvester Stallone’s filmic journey from zero to hero as boxer Rocky Balboa saw him just outside the top ten.

Other unlikely heroes listed included David Brent, Wile E. Coyote and The Karate Kid.

A Ladbrokes spokesperson said: “Nothing resonates more with a British audience than an underdog beating the odds.

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“Leicester City’s inspirational journey typifies how the public love to get behind those facing an uphill battle and, whether in sport, film or real life accomplishments, we take them to our hearts.”

If given the choice, eight in ten Brits will always root for the underdog, results showed - and more than two thirds felt our need to back someone against the odds is a particularly British trait.

The research also compiled the biggest sporting underdog moments – with Leicester City somewhat predictably topping the list.

Liverpool’s Champion’s League turnaround against AC Milan, Greece’s 2004 European Championship winning team and Goran Ivanisevic’s triumph at Wimbledon in 2001 also counted among the greatest ever long-shots.

Top underdogs

Leicester City

Eddie the Eagle

Del Boy

Susan Boyle

The Jamaican Bobsleigh team

Forrest Gump

Oliver Twist

Billy Elliott

JK Rowling

Paul Potts


Frodo Baggins

Tom (Tom and Jerry)

The Karate Kid

Jamie Vardy


Arya Stark

Jane Eyre

David Brent

Wile Coyote

Top sporting underdog achievements

Leicester City premier league winners (2016) – 5000/1

Eddie the Eagle competes in the Winter Olympics (1988) 50/1

The Jamaican bobsleigh team (1988) 1000/1

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Unseeded Boris Becker’s Wimbledon win aged just 17 (1985) 200/1

Dennis Taylor defeating Steve Davis for the World Snooker Championship (1985) (from 8-0 down – 50/1 – 5/1 to win match)

Liverpool beat AC Milan in the Champions League Final from 3-0 down (2005)100/1

Japan beat South Africa in the rugby world cup (2015) 66/1

The Greek football team wins the Euros (2004) 500/1

Unseeded Goran Ivanisevic’s Wimbledon triumph (2001) 200/1

Muhammed Ali’s ‘rumble in the jungle’ win over George Foreman (1974) 4/1

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Nottingham Forest football team two European cups (1978-80) 1000/1

Jenson Button and Brawn GP winning the Formula One world championship (2009)100/1

Wimbledon’s FA cup winning side (1988) 200/1

Joe Johnson wins the world snooker championships (1986) 150/1

Ipswich Town football club win UEFA cup (1981) 250/1

Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson (1990) 42/1

Denmark win the European football champions (1992) 100/1

Danny Willett – Master’s winner (2016) 50/1

Dustin Brown beats Rafael Nadal (2015) 10/1

Sri Lanka’s cricket world cup win (1996) 25/1