Footballers have their ups and downs. One of the darkest aspects of being a successful footballer of your age and for your team or country is that all the success and money can get to your head. And what do you do when you have lots of money?
Well, you gamble it away in one way or the other.
It’s very important to gamble responsibly. Whether it’s footballers or Hollywood celebrities with a fan following that eclipses anyone else—Being irresponsible with hard-earned money can be the biggest mistake of anyone’s life. And this is something that amateur gamblers need to understand particularly well – being cautious and selecting a reliable provider is a must before delving into the space.
When it comes to legitimate gambling platforms, they facilitate features like parental controls and self-exclusion. That is, while users are dabbling into online video poker real money, they can always decide to take a break from the poker tables, asking the provider to disable their account. This makes it easy to control oneself and enjoy gambling without thinking about the negative repercussions.
However, unfortunately, a lot of footballers have literally gambled their money away, struggling with years of gambling addiction. In this piece, we’re going to talk about the most well-known footballers that had a gambling problem.
1. Paul Merson
Paul Merson, the former Arsenal and England player, is quite possibly the footballer most well-known to have a gambling problem. His love affair with gambling (and alcoholism and a brief addiction to cocaine) has scarred him for life, something he now dubs “36 years of pure madness.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Merson said, “‘Gambling is a horrible addiction. Your career passes you by.”
2. Eidur Gudjohnsen
The ex-Chelsea star helped the team win two Premier League titles before helping Barcelona win the Champions League. The spectacular Icelandic striker, however, is all too familiar with how addictive betting can become.
At the peak of his career, he reportedly lost around £6 million (over $7.6 million) to bookies, including five months of losing £400,000 (over $500K).
3. Dietmar Hamann
There’s something in the Liverpool air. Hamann was also not spared the gambling addiction shared by many Liverpool footballers. Opening up about his gambling addiction in his autobiography The Didi Man, he writes that he turned to sports betting following marital problems. As per his records, he lost £288,400 on a single cricket match!
4. David Bentley
Placing his first bet at the age of 14—The ex-West Ham Utd. and Tottenham player saw his gambling addiction get out of control. There was a time in his life when he was placing nearly a hundred bets a day.
Among his favorites were online poker, horse racing, and greyhound racing. He finally managed to overcome his gambling addiction with help from his agent and girlfriend.
5. Matthew Etherington
Stoke City’s winger has admitted to blowing £1.5 million on gambling back in 2010. His losses in poker and horse betting reached their peak when he was playing for West Ham Utd. Etherington also noted how he saw many footballers having gambling problems and how he used to get calls from other players’ agents to get his advice on overcoming gambling addiction.
6. Kyle Lafferty
The ex-Rangers and Burnley star performer admitted his gambling addiction publicly on several different occasions. His primary reason? Boredom.
Once training and matches were finished, Lafferty had the comfort of football betting that ultimately landed him in trouble with an FA charge and a hefty £23,000 fine for his team.
7. Wayne Rooney
A notch on the belt in the history of Man United, Rooney got into football betting, greyhound racing, and horse racing at a young age. Rooney’s story isn’t as disheartening as others on the list, including fellow Premier League stars. He got over his betting addiction and went on to become an inspiration for many.
8. Michael Chopra
Football injuries are a big issue—But not if you need the money to fund your daily gambling. The Blackpool striker lost something in the range of £1.5 and £2 million on gambling. He had the habit of spending £20,000 a day, which ultimately got him to leave Cardiff and play through injury just to cover his debts.
9. Kenny Sansom
Another Arsenal and England player on the list, Kenny Sansom, came clean about his problems with gambling addiction to Daily Mail. He said that the addiction to gambling and alcoholism left him “destitute and bankrupt.”
10. Keith Gillespie
Gillespie had an excellent career from every angle. He played for Manchester United, Newcastle United, and Blackburn Rovers. But in 2010, things took a turn for the worst, and he had to declare bankruptcy. In his filings, the winger noted that betting on horses was a major contributing factor to the loss of his wealth.
11. Andros Townsend
The Crystal Palace midfielder landed in trouble and was slapped with a 4-month FA penalty due to his out-of-control gambling habits. Further, his gambling addiction also caused him to lose his spot on the under-21 football team for the European Championship in 2013. Townsend recovered shortly afterward, and his gambling spell was fairly short-lived.