How many footballers are gambling addicts?

Talk Sport today discussed gambling addiction problems for footballers. “Severe symptoms of depression and anxiety characterised by mixtures of panic, hopelessness and thoughts of suicide”. For some, they were able to stop before it was too late. Others were not so fortunate. Featured here are former (and current) players who played for Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle and Tottenham.

Michael Chopra - Newcastle, Cardiff, Sunderland, Ipswich, Blackpool

'I have probably lost between £1.5m and £2m on gambling. Your first bet’s your worst bet. As the years have come along and I’ve earned more money I’ve started to gamble more. I was gambling up to £20,000 a day at times'.

Matthew Etherington - Peterborough, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham, Stoke City

Etherington says he lost £1.5m on greyhounds, horses and poker.

'I had become very withdrawn, not the person my family knew. When you are a gambler, you are in another world, not really listening. You're thinking about your next bet'.

Keith Gillespie - Manchester United, Newcastle United, Blackburn, Leicester City, Sheffield United, Bradford City, Darlington

Gillespie reckons he has squandered around £7.2m on gambling.

'Without a doubt I was a stupid gambler. But then there’s not too many clever gamblers. I had a good education, I was brought up well, but once you get caught up in it, it takes the wits out of you'.

Dietmar Hamann - Bayern Munich, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Manchester City, MK Dons

'One night, the Aussies were playing South Africa in a Test match. Australia collapsed for 237. It is a score I remember well. It cost me £288,400'.

Fortunately, Hamann overcome his problems before it was too late.

Paul Merson - Arsenal, Middlesborough, Aston Villa, Portsmouth Walsall

Merson reckons he lost £7m during his 20-year gambling addiction.

'I placed some silly wagers, £60,000 here, £80,000 there. My system was all over the place and I was gambling on absolutely anything and everything'.

Dominic Matteo - Liverpool, Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers, Stock City

Matteo says he lost around £1m, but believes that it could have been a lot worse if he hadn't reined himself in.

'Most of my friends and family know I enjoy a drink but the gambling side, and especially the extent of it, was not known and has come as a shock to them'.

Kevin Twaddle - St Johnston, Raith Rovers, Greenock Morton, Motherwell, Hearts, St Mirren

Twaddle believes he has frittered away over £1m gambling, which drove him to the brink of suicide.

'I was stealing, lying, cheating, deceiving to do it but I didn’t see it as that. It was all about getting the money, I didn’t think about the repercussions. I didn’t care about anything apart from gambling'.

Joey Barton admitted a gambling problem has effectively ended his career.

The controversial 34-year-old midfielder was handed an 18-month ban from the FA for betting on 1260 matches.

Do you have a gambling addiction?

Recognising and acknowledging the signs of gambling addiction is vital if a sufferer wants to prevent their disorder from getting worse. If you are worried that you have a gambling problem, take a look at the following signs which are common in those who compulsively gamble:

  • Are you spending more time and money on gambling than you can afford?

  • Are you finding it hard to manage or stop your gambling?

  • Are you increasingly taking larger risks to satisfy your urge to gamble?

  • Are you losing interest in usual activities and hobbies?

  • Is gambling constantly on your mind?

  • Do you gamble until all of your money is gone?

  • Are you feeling constantly anxious, irritable, guilty or depressed?

  • Do you feel the need to be secretive and lie about your gambling?

  • Do you gamble even when you don't have the money?

  • Have family and friends expressed their concerns?

If you can relate to a number of these, you should consider seeking help. Just remember that it is not a sign of weakness asking for help, it is a strength. I can provide effective treatment to promote your recovery.

I am a Gamcare trained Gambling Addiction Counsellor. 8 years experience supporting over 800 gamblers in Leeds, York, Middlesbrough, Sunderland & South Shields. One-to-one counselling sessions. Group sessions by request. I am dedicated to helping clients with gambling addiction problems work towards a more successful way of living. Sessions include assessment, careplan & relapse prevention, & strategies to deal with debt, career, mental health and relationship issues. I also offer support for partners & parents.

Sessions available for you now.

Anne Galloway

Accredited CBT Counsellor/Psychotherapist

BSc (hons) Psych, Dip Couns, Dip CBT, Dip NLP, BACP Registered and Accredited

Prospect House, 32 Sovereign Street, Leeds, LS1 4BJ


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