Reds recruit reveals how Man Utd debut at 19 won his dad a 100-1 bet – placed 10 years prior

At nine years of age, the odds of Ryan Tunnicliffe making his senior debut for Manchester United were set at 100-1. His father took those odds, and a decade on, turned a 100-pound wager into £10,000.

That’s how the legend goes according to Tunnicliffe who, upon signing for Isuzu UTE A-League club Adelaide United, told the story of his dad’s major windfall from a bet placed when he joined Manchester United’s academy at just nine years of age.


“He must have had a spare 100-pound lying around somehow,” Tunnicliffe said. “I think at the time it was a bit of banter, because the odds of a nine-year-old doing that, I think he got (100-1) which is terrible odds if you ask me… because it’s something only a select few people get to do. Not great odds from the bookies.

“It was just a bit of banter, and then obviously you get older and you get closer and you start to think: ‘Hang on a minute, this could actually happen!’

“All the driving around he did for me, all the sacrifices he made, and my mum as well, that 10 grand was a nice payoff for him when it came through.”

Tunnicliffe was 19 when he made his debut for the club in 2012. Looking back, he believes the betting agency’s 100-1 odds shortchanged his father; the likelihood of an academy player like him making it to the first team and onto the pitch in a competitive game, he says, is in reality a one-in-a-million chance.

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His 2012 debut came off the back of a brilliant season in the club’s youth ranks in 2010-11, where he won the Youth FA Cup and prestigious Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award.

“It was one of the best times… playing for the biggest club in the world at the time – I guess there’s some debate now that it’s probably not!” He said.

“But growing up a lifelong United fan, to winning the Youth FA Cup at 18 with some of the boys like Jesse (Lingard) and Ravel (Morrison) who I’d known since I was nine years old, to win such a prestigious cup with them was something I’d never forget, really. 

“At that age, at such a big club you learn everything you need to know about football-wise, how to be a professional, how to be a man… playing with some great players and seeing how well our youth team has done, individually and overall, I think it was a really good youth team.”

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Tunnicliffe’s career wouldn’t kick on in Manchester, with subsequent moves to a number of English clubs highlighted by a brief Premier League stint with Fulham in the Premier League as well as a number of Championship clubs.

Now, he’s joined Adelaide United on a multi-year deal ahead of the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League season. It’s his first experience at a club outside of England.

“Speaking to people that played out here before, they said Adelaide is in the top echelon of clubs in the A-League,” he said. “The league is getting better – I think this is a step up for me, professionally, to what level I’ve been playing at recently (English League One at Portsmouth).

“It’s getting me out of my comfort zone. It’s a long way from home, I’m trying something new, I’ve done the same thing for 10-12 years now. I think this is the change I need to kick on and improve.

“I want to test myself in a good league. I spoke to (former Melbourne City coach) Warren Joyce who has been here recently who said it’s a tough league to play in, and test myself against all different types of players.

“(Wellington Phoenix defender) Scotty Wootton, I talked to him about making the move, and Jack Rodwell is here as well (Sydney FC). Nothing but great things when you speak to them people of what the league is, and what it has become.”