Significant sums of money at a young age and boredom outside of working hours mean that footballers are vulnerable to gambling addiction. Here are some of the most high-profile football gamblers. Having stumbled on an article that highlighted Las Vegas as a popular destination for footballers on Roulette.co.uk, I decided to make a list about players affected by gambling.
In 2009, stories emerged of former Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen’s £6 million gambling debt. The Icelandic footballer became addicted whilst recovering from a serious knee injury at Barcelona, having spent two summers visiting Las Vegas.
Stoke City winger Matthew Etherington admitted to blowing £1.5 million on gambling in 2010. His gambling woes – linked to poker and horse betting - reached a peak whilst he was at West Ham Utd.
Blackpool striker Michael Chopra told The Guardian he lost between £1.5 and £2 million on gambling. His £20,000 a day habit forced him to leave Cardiff and play through injury at Ipswich to cover debts.
Despite enjoying a fruitful post-playing career as a Sky Sports pundit, former Arsenal playmaker Paul Merson has failed to conquer his gambling demons. In 2008 he was forced to give up his £300,000 home after failing to keep up with mortgage payments. Lifelong drug, alcohol and gambling addiction is said to have cost Merson £7 million.
England and Arsenal defensive legend Kenny Sansom came clean about his gambling problems to the Daily Mail earlier this year. Sansom, now 54, claimed that gambling and alcohol addiction had left him destitute and bankrupt.
Keith Gillespie enjoyed an illustrious playing career at Manchester United, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers, but he declared bankruptcy in 2010. The Northern Ireland winger cited betting on horses as a contributing factor.