Due to the crazy amount of money footballers earn and with plenty of downtime outside of football, gambling is becoming a serious issue. Everyone who follows the beautiful game is well aware of how prevalent betting is becoming within football. At every football ground, advertisement boards are plastered with betting ads; you can’t avoid them. While most of us enjoy a flutter every now and then, those select few will lose everything. Footballers with multi-million pound contracts end up with massive debts they can’t afford to repay. Their glamorous lifestyles with luxurious houses and sports cars quickly evaporate.
The former winger claims to have lost £1.5 million over his career through betting on greyhounds, horses and online poker. In an interview with the BBC, Etherington said he frequently receives phone calls from agents on behalf of players asking for help. Etherington picked up his gambling addiction at an early age mainly due to boredom. At West Ham he was earning £20,000 per week, sadly most of his salary went to the bookies. West Ham United even gave him a loan of £300,000 to help pay off debts. Luckily he has managed to beat his demons and is going to Gambling Anonymous twice a week.
The journeyman lost a whopping £2 million during his footballing career. The striker didn’t manage to play many games in the Premier League but still gambled away an absolute fortune! Chopra admitted to moving clubs just to receive sign-on fees to pay off debts. At the peak of his addiction, Chopra was betting £20,000 a day. Sometimes he would get up in the middle of the night to place bets on South American football matches.
The German midfielder had quite a successful career at Liverpool, making over 200 appearances in seven seasons. Famously he played the second half of the Champions League final against AC Milan with a broken toe! Off the field, Hamann had big issues no one knew about. He once lost £280,000 on a cricket match through spread betting. Now Hamann has a successful career working as a football pundit.
Gudjohnsen developed his addiction to betting at Chelsea when he was injured. Astonishingly he lost £400,000 in five months, he claims boredom and loneliness was the main cause. In 2009, it was revealed he had racked up debts of £6 million! Similarly to Chopra, he transferred between clubs for sign-on fees to feed his bad habit.
The Northern Irish man broke into Man United’s team at 17 years old, with supporters dubbing him the next George Best. Gillespie has been very vocal in the media about his issues. In his book, “How Not to Be a Football Millionaire,” he reveals how he blew over £7 million through gambling and bad investments. In 2010, Gillespie filed for bankruptcy and now depends on media work to earn a living.
Matteo estimates he lost close to £1 million but could’ve been much worse if he didn’t stop when he did. At the height of his gambling, he bet £200,000 on a horse race and won but his winnings were slowly given back to the bookmakers. Apparently, he still places the odd bet but on a much smaller scale to his heydays. Currently works as a pundit on various TV and radio stations.
Sky Sports pundit, Paul Merson gave away the majority of his fortune to the bookmakers through stupid bets. Despite his debts, Merson forged a nice career working for Sky Sports. He’s an entertaining character, and everyone enjoys watching his antics on Soccer Saturday. During his time at Portsmouth FC, he once gave Harry Redknapp £30,000 in a paper bag. An Irish mob were after Merson and he needed Redknapp to mind the money until after the game. Allegedly he owed £100,000 but the Irish mobsters cut their losses short and wanted only £30,000.