Gambling has eaten deep into the soccer world that even players with mammoth salaries still gamble. You’d then wonder why they gamble when they have fat pay, endorsement and other mouth watering deals.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, some really big names had this to say;
“I have lost a lot and I had a stinker, because it’s all I thought about during the game.” – current Premier League player.
“On the way to the game he lost about two grand, and he was only 18. He had a shocker in the game.” – Premier League player speaking about a team mate.
“I have seen a lot of players lose a lot of money and when they get to the game they have a bad experience or a bad game…when I became a manager I tried to ban cards…but you can’t really stop it.” – former Championship player.
These are all footballers who’ve not had it rosy when gambling.
All the same, let’s look at 5 players who’ve had a bad turn when it comes to the complex nature of betting.
1. DOMINIC MATTEO.
Dominic Matteo, a footballer who plied his trade in top flight clubs like Liverpool, Leeds, Blackburn, Stoke City, and Sunderland.
Matteo openly spoke about his gambling addictions in his biography ‘In My Defence’
He said: “Most of my friends and family know I enjoy a drink but the gambling side, especially the extent of it, was not known and has come as a shock to them.
“You’re free to walk into the bookies to get your bet on and in a place like Leeds everyone would know if you started putting big money on.
“But with telephone accounts and text betting, you can do it privately. No one’s the wiser.
“There’s no prying eyes and bookmakers guard your secrecy.
“With drinking or womanising, you’d be in the papers but betting is one of the few vices footballers can have without it getting around”
“All in all, I lost seven figures by the time I packed it in but it was only the birth of my daughter Luisa that made me think, ‘This is ridiculous and has to stop.’”
Sad tale of a fine footballer isn’t it.
2. MICHEAL CHOPRA
Former Cardiff striker Chopra told the media how he gambled away £1.5 – £2 million within a four year span.
“I started gambling when I was about 17, when I first played for Newcastle I was travelling with the first team,” said Chopra, who came through the youth ranks at Newcastle to play alongside the likes of Alan Shearer, Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble and Craig Bellamy. “Players would gamble on the bus and I got involved. We would take thousands of pounds on to the bus, anything up to £30,000.
“It might change hands playing cards on the bus, we would go to the bank before and take out the money. It was part of team bonding. We were playing for real cash, if you were playing for £30,000 you would have it with you at the time.”
His exorbitant spending of £20,000 a day habit eventually saw him leaving Cardiff city, playing through injuries at Ipswich to recover accumulated debts.
3. DAVID BENTLEY.
He was a former Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham player who had great prospects. Sadly that was overturned by his excessive gambling habits.
He admitted to placing his first bet when he was just 14 and then became addicted.
“It was a joke,” Bentley told Setanta Sports’ Football Matters programme.
“It starts off on pounds. Then it’s hundreds, then it’s thousands. It’s never about winning £100, you want to win a hundred grand.
“I was 14 when I first started going to a betting shop. As I started earning more money I really started getting heavily into it. You could get a certain amount of money and then just blow it all.
“I’d wake up in the morning and the first thing I thought of was to have a bet.”
He has however overcome the addiction and credits this landmark to his girlfriend.
“I sat down with my girlfriend and she said, ‘You’ve got to stop’. You just evaluate your life and I just thought to myself I’m going to have to stop. It was the hardest thing ever.”
4. JOEY BARTON.
Former Burnley striker Joey Barton is among the array of players who are deep into the gambling euphoria.
He was banned by the English FA, while playing for premier league club, Burnley, for going against the FA betting rules.
He however admitted that he is addicted to betting.
“I am not alone in football in having a problem with gambling. I grew up in an environment where betting was and still is part of the culture. From as early as I can remember my family let me have my own pools coupon, and older members of the family would place bets for me on big races like the Grand National. To this day, I rarely compete at anything without there being something at stake. Whether that’s a round of golf with friends for a few pounds, or a game of darts in the training ground for who makes the tea, I love competing. I love winning. I am also addicted to that. It is also the case that professional football has long had a betting culture, and I have been in the sport all my adult life”
5. EIĎUR GUÐJOHNSEN.
Most worthy of note is Icelandic forward, Eiður Guðjohnsen.
The prolific forward has had a great career with big clubs like Barcelona and Chelsea.
The Icelandic top scorer of all time was at a time involved in a £6 million debt scandal that rocked the footballing world. He became hooked into betting, when he was on a vacation in Las Vegas, recovering from a rather serious injury while on duty for Barcelona.