Gambling is widespread in the world of football today, whether you stake a little sum on matches or stake high, the fact still remains you are part of the gambling industry.
Gambling can be sometimes great and fun to involve in, but when it isn’t kept under control or play responsibly it becomes an addiction. That has been the case for some football stars who engaged themselves in gambling.
Despite the glitz and glam footballers enjoy, one of the darkest sides of some professional footballers is the kind of lifestyle they choose to live. Whether good or bad, those who manage to control their expensive lifestyle, gambling, or other things would have a wonderful time while still active or after retirement.
According to sources, hundreds of professional footballers have full-blown gambling addictions. This is something that you rarely hear about but it’s actually a serious problem. It’s easy to see why this happens. These guys have more money and free time than they know what to do with.
Also, many believe they have special insights into sports like football and know exactly where bets should be placed. Sadly, most of the time this belief is totally unfounded. Also, it’s not always sports betting. Some prefer to visit casinos and hit the slot machines or poker rooms.
Here, we’ll take a look at the players who are addicted to gambling during their careers.
- Scott Davies – (Ireland)
The Irish International has played most of his professional football in the lower leagues of English football. The Stains Town defender is one of the footballers who has seen the darkest side of gambling and did admit to heavy loss in casinos once he started earning large wages as a professional.
Davies now gives help and advice to others who have found themselves having similar problems in gambling addiction. After a few years away from gambling, his life has turned around working with an organization named EPIC Risk Management, where he delivers talks to clubs about gambling problems inviting the players to ask for help if they are struggling.
Early in his career, at age 16 he moved out of his parent’s house in Aylesbury to live alone in the digs at Reading, playing for the youth team Davies wages at the time was £50 a week, and got paid every Wednesday morning.
That was when his gambling act started, every of his salary was being spent at the bookmakers and since there is no one to checkmate him, it was the perfect avenue to avoid the age answer of him being eligible to place a bet or not, and each time he visited the bookmakers he would walk out with an empty pocket, with his salary for the week gone to gambling.
- Michael Chopra – (England)
Like Davies, like Chopra. The former Newcastle United and Sunderland forward also suffered from gambling addiction, having started betting at age 17 when he first played for Newcastle. Chopra claimed he gambled up to £30,000 in cash with other players on the team bus en route to matches while he was a teenager at St James’s Park, and lost over £2m to gambling.
His gambling problem was so bad that he would set his alarm for 3 am so he could place a bet on games that were taking place in South American with the bookmaker.
He also joined Sunderland to pay off his debts, which started out when he was just a young lad, Chopra was also faced with additionally severe charges from the British Horseracing Authority for suspicious betting activity.
Chopra’s story is one that is clouded by controversy off the pitch with gambling addiction. However, his talent brought a lot of joy to thousands of fans who saw him played. Perhaps he shouldn’t have involved himself with what he thought was a team bonding activity, but for Chopra, it became a destructive vice to him which made him bankrupt and led to his parents selling their home to pay for his debts.
- David Bentley – (England)
The former Blackburn Rovers midfielder began his gambling as a youth player age 14 at Arsenal. During that time, he used to go to the betting shop with his mates at first and with their dads as well. Bentley’s gambling addiction grew bigger when he started to earn more money, which made him bet on everything including horses, dogs, online poker, and American sports.
Bentley was so addicted to gambling that he thought of nothing early in the morning rather than going to the betting shop to place a bet, even what was his primary assignment which is to play football, he didn’t quite think much about it the way he thinks of gambling.
Bentley’s healing from gambling addiction was aided, thanks to his agent and girlfriend who helped him overcome his addiction, and say goodbye to greyhounds, horse racing betting, and online poker with up to 100 bets a day.
The former England international is now doing well running several businesses across Europe, among them is his restaurant business in Marbella, Spain.
- Eidur Gudjohnsen – (Iceland)
The former Chelsea and Iceland forward did enjoy a successful career that spanned two decades, but one thing he failed to conquer during his trophy-laden career was falling victim to gambling. Gudjohnsen gambling addiction first started when he was recovering from an injury, which he used in pushing himself back to full fitness.
Just like other players who were addicted to gambling, Eidur admitted to the fact that he lost almost half a million pounds in just a few months, with roulette wheels and blackjack his games of choice when he missed out on football due to injury.
His addiction was so deep that Eidur compared winning a bet to scoring a goal, as such he got rooted to betting which spiraled out of control and eventually ran him into a £6m debt.
In 2009, having found a way to conquer his habit, he quit gambling and he has since being a coach, managing FH Hafnarfjardar in the Icelandic League. Thanks to his vehement decision which he took to stop gambling, perhaps that act may have ruined his life and football career.
- Dominic Matteo – (Scotland)
Matteo is a former Scottish professional footballer, whose career spanned 17 years, making 366 league and cup appearances, of which 276 were in the Premier League.
Matteo didn’t just have a thriving career, he was also one of the very renowned players who had a serious gambling problem, which made him accumulated around £1m in debts and declared bankruptcy.
In addition to Matteo’s losing seven figures to betting, he also admitted to betting £100,000 on a single horse. In 2011 he opened up about his addiction in his biography ‘In My Defence‘ and interviews promoting his book. In the book, he explained how he had gambled away his fortune and what should be his daughter’s inheritance.
Having gone through the terrible experience of gambling, Matteo raised awareness and help others to avoid committing the same mistakes, he committed while playing professionally and also gambled away his fortune plus that of his daughter.
- Paul Merson – (England)
The former Arsenal midfielder had to battle plenty of addiction during his playing career, from drug to alcohol, to gamble which had a negative effect on his football.
When he eventually quit alcohol and drugs, he replaced them with betting and reportedly spent thousands of pounds at a time on a regular basis to bet, which cumulated into around £7m debt forcing him to sell his house at the time.
According to Merson, “Wagering bets was more challenging to stop than any substance he’s ever consumed“, when he was very active patronizing the bookmakers he lost up to £30,000 in one round of betting.
In 2008 he gave up his £300,000 home having missed his mortgage payments agreeing to gamble addiction rehab.
After his retirement, he has since been working in the media as a pundit, co-hosting football program. In 2019, Merson talked about how he had relapsed in battling his alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction which even led to depression.
However, Merson was able to fight and won all of his addiction in the end, and now maintain a life away from all of his past.
- Joey Barton – (England)
The current Fleetwood Town manager in League One and former Manchester City midfielder has a record of being on the forefront of controversy off and on the pitch during his professional career. Coupled with the fact that, he also had a record of gambling addiction which got him in trouble in 2017, when he was banned by the Football Association for breaching betting rules.
It was reported that Barton placed 1,260 bets during his active days, even during his time at Rangers he was also banned for breaking Scottish Football Association betting rules. The former Newcastle United was also once jailed for assault given credence to how controversial he was.
Barton also admitted to betting on games he was involved in, which says a lot about his addiction. However, despite being very active in gambling the former Burnley man never for once got involved in match-fixing which could have spell doom for him.
Away from his gambling problem, he now enjoys life as a football manager in the lower division of English football.
- Andros Townsend – (England)
The Crystal Palace forward has become a key player for the Selhurst Parkside in recent seasons, with his display on the wing helping the Eagles in the Premier League this season.
The former Tottenham Hotspur man is another victim of gambling addiction, who fell foul of the FA betting rules when his gambling habit got out of control during his loan days at Birmingham City.
According to him, he revealed that before his then team Birmingham faced Blackpool in the first leg of the 2012 Championship play-off semi-final, he lost £46,000 on a single match lying down on a bed, due to the fact that he couldn’t sleep pondering about what was the biggest match of the season for him and the Birmingham team.
It’s was reported that it was boredom in a hotel room that got him into betting, when he saw a free betting ad on his phone, he downloaded it and he got addicted to betting.
After he got caught by the FA, Townsend went for counseling to help his addiction, and thankfully it helps saved his career and likewise saved him from destruction in the hands of sports gamble.
- Dietmar Hamann – (Germany)
Hamann is no doubt one of Germany’s brilliant midfielders during his career. The former Liverpool maestro suffered a lot of addiction among them was betting following the breakdown of his marriage, an experience he described as a painful and expensive experience.
During his torrid time, he revealed how he once lost £288,400 on a single bet on cricket in a match that involved Australia and South Africa.
In his autobiography ‘The Didi Man’ My Love Affair with Liverpool, he also revealed better how he placed a bet on Australia for €3,365 at 340 runs, which means for each runs over 340 you win €3,365 but for every run under you lose the same amount.
In what happened to be a sad story for Didi, unfortunately, Australia collapsed for 237 runs, which cost him €345,900, and for every wicket lost it’s felt like a stab in the heart to the former Champions League winner.
Hamann gave up his addiction the next day, having lost a huge amount of money placing a bet on Australia, and realized he was going out of the board. Since then things changed for him and won his battle.
- Kyle Lafferty – (Northern Ireland)
For those who don’t know much about the former Rangers forward, Lafferty’s goals were very crucial to Northern Ireland’s qualification for the Euro 2016 finals in France.
Lafferty was also one of the players that got an addiction problem in betting, he admitted that boredom played a major reason for his online gambling once training and matches are over.
Lafferty was able to surmount his demons all thanks to his wife Vanessa and the birth of their daughter, Sienna who had a stabilizing effect on him, claiming “I have someone else’s life to look after as well“.
Before the support of his wife, which helped him stay out of betting he was charged and fine by the FA for £23,000.
The Reggina man in the Seria B now plays his football without the fear of going back into betting, and despite not playing in the big leagues anymore, he still remains one of Northern Ireland’s key figures when called to play for his country.
As a footballer, many factors could contribute to footballers getting themselves into gambling, which includes boredom from injuries or using gamble as a way to catch fun which in the end pushed them into addiction.
As much as it looks like having fun, when involved in betting of some sort, staking responsibly is key and it shouldn’t be an everyday routine. Once it becomes that then it has become an addiction.
BE GAMBLE AWARE, BET RESPONSIBLY. STAKE WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE. DON’T GET ADDICTED
7 Of The Most Loyal Football Players
When it comes to loyalty and commitment in the beautiful game, there are few football players who are able to pledge their allegiance and refused to be swayed by big offers. For every Ashley Cole, there’s also a Totti.
There are players who when they reach their potentials, will get easily swayed by money and the probable fame that will follow their transition to other clubs. While other players would simply remain at their current club because of the love they have for the club.
The first set of players who leave the club when bigger clubs come calling are always remembered for their exploits while at the club. But, the second type of football player who ignores the temptations of leaving their ‘most loved’ football club sides is regarded as heroes.
Meanwhile, there are some known players who have showcased utmost loyalty for their respective clubs. For instance, Francesco Totti waved off Real Madrid’s offer in 2006, stating AS Roma as his family and he’s never seen a situation where a child would leave his poor parents to go live with rich strangers.
But what about other unpopular loyal players like Francesco Totti, Stephen Gerrard or even Mark Noble?.
Here’s a list of 7 most loyal football players
- David Zibung (Goalkeeper) – FC Luzern (18 Years +)
The life of this Swiss goalkeeper has been all about his boyhood club, FC Luzern. The +37-year old was born in Hergiswil which is in the Nidwalden region in Switzerland.
He joined the youth team of FC Luzern in 1999 and was there till 2003. Zibung grew in leaps and bounds with the Luzern main team, ever since he broke into the first team, he’s never for once considered leaving the club.
Technically, Zibung would’ve spent eighteen years at Luzern by July 2021. But he’s definitely spent more than eighteen years given that he’s been at the club’s feeder team before 2003.
Zibung remains one of the oldest and longest-serving loyal goalkeepers of the Swiss League.
- Hidekazu Otani (Midfielder) – Kashiwa Reysol (18 Years)
Otani is a midfielder of note, who joined his one and only club in 2000 as a teenager. Now 36 years-old, Okami has been deployed in many parts of the midfield but his natural position is the defensive midfield where he plays comfortably well.
The Japanese veteran midfielder has on numerous occasions been offered to leave his club but his love for the Sun King club has held him back so much so that he’s willing to retire at the club when the time comes.
While some quarters may believe that Hidekazu Okani had been at Kashiwa for eighteen years, the fans of the club see him as an integral part of the club’s history given that he’s won laurels with the club severally.
- Igor Akinfeev (Goalkeeper) – CSKA Moscow (18 Years)
Akinfeev is probably the most popular player we’re x-raying in this Exposé. Akinfeev, Russian, is the Russian National Team goalkeeper and captain, as well as his club side, CSKA Moscow.
History has it that the 34-year old shot-stopper has been at CSKA Moscow since the age of four. His father sent him to the Sports School of CSKA where he began his goalkeeping career and won the Russian Junior Championship in 2002 with the CSKA Moscow team.
Akinfeev would make his debut for CSKA Moscow at sixteen, precisely 2001 where he saved a penalty and also had a clean sheet. He has played over five hundred matches for CSKA Moscow, winning six Russian Cup titles, six Russian Premier League titles as well as the 2005 UEFA Cup with the club.
His incredible rise to stardom is down to his personality and ingenuity as a goalkeeper. He’s arguably the best goalkeeper the Russian nation has ever produced and has been on several international tournaments for the country since he joined the national team.
It may sound bizarre but Akinfeev has spent thirty years at the Red-blues. That is a huge commitment mixed with loyalty.
READ ALSO: 7 of the Best Fitness Coaches In Football
- Ismed Sofyan (Defender) – Persita Jakarta (18 Years)
Talking about the most loyal player, Sofyan’s loyalty isn’t about his club alone, it’s for his country and his country’s elite league, The Indonesian Super League – Not that he’s an amateur.
Yes, he may have played for a couple of club sides in the Indonesian league, but his love and unwavering support for his country is immeasurable.
Sofyan currently plays for Persita Jakarta, a club he joined in 2002 that has made him become the longest-serving player in the club until now. The 41year-old right full-back is a free-kick specialist. He was only privileged to play for the Indonesian National Team for just 53 times.
- Dean Lewington (Defender) – Milton Keynes Dons FC (18 Years)
As of July 2020, Lewinton is the longest-serving player for a single club in English League having spent sixteen years with The Dons.
The English left-back joined MK Dons after a successful spell with Wimbledon in 2004. Lewington, 32, has made over seven hundred appearances with more than 250 different team-mates.
He’s witnessed two promotions and relegations as the club’s captain for the years he’s been at MK Dons and he’s grateful for the sort of longevity he’s had.
He told daily mail in 2016 ‘It’s not like the Premier League where you get five-year deals. It is one or two years. When we won promotion to the Championship in 2015, I was out of contract on the final day as we were celebrating.’
- Koji Homa (Goalkeeper) – Mito HollyHock (21 Years)
Undoubtedly a popular figure in the Japanese league, the 43-year-old goalkeeper currently plays for the above-named club in the second tier of the Japanese League, J2.
After graduating from high school, he joined the J1 League side Urawa Reds in 1996 but couldn’t play more often before crossing to Mito HollyHock in 1999 and never looked back.
He’s helped Mito HollyHock achieve some amazing feats since he joined in 1999 with the biggest of them being the promotion of the club to J2 in 2000.
In his twenty-one-year sojourn with the club, Koji Homma holds the record for the player with the highest number of matches played in J2.
- Lee Casciaro (Forward) – Lincoln Red Imps (22 Years)
The 38-year-old Gibraltar striker scored the only goal of the game when his Gibraltarian minnows club (Lincoln Red Imps) shocked Celtic and to a larger extent, the rest of Europe in their Champions League qualifier at the Victoria Stadium in 2016,
Cascario, 39, has been at the club since he was eight years old and has spent twenty-three years as a first-team member.
It should be agreed that Lincoln Red Imps was made for Cascario, given that two of his younger brothers have played for the club as well.
With three international goals, Lee Henry Cascario is currently Gibraltar’s all-time goalscorer since the 33,684 populated nation joined UEFA.
- Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao): 11 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Tarantini (Rio Ave): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Stefan Radu (Lazio): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Vincent Manceau (Angers SCO): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Anthony Lopes (Lyon): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Koke (Atletico Madrid): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Roberto Torres (Osasuna): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Gerard Pique (Barcelona): 12 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Mario Gaspar Perez (Villarreal): 12 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Guilherme (Lokomotiv Moscow): 13 years, 1 month, 3 days
- Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur): 13 years, 1 month, 10 days
- Volodymyr Chesnakov (Vorskla Poltava): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Mahmut Tekdemir (Istanbul Basaksehir): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Sergio Busquets (Barcelona): 13 years, 2 months, 3 days
- Andriy Pyatov (Shakhtar Donetsk): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Marcelo (Real Madrid): 13 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Sammy Bossut (Zulte Waregem): 14 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid): 15 years, 4 days
- Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Francesco Magnanelli (Sassuolo): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Jessy Moulin (Saint-Etienne): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Oier (Osasuna): 15 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Sergio Alvarez (Celta de Vigo): 16 years, 2 months, 4 days
- Mark Noble (West Ham United): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Lionel Messi: (Barcelona): 16 years, 8 months, 3 days
- Denis Sinyayev(FC Avangard Kursk)18 years
- Ismaeil Matar (Al-Wahda): 19 years
- Petr Literak(Frýdek-Místek): 22 years
Erling Haaland: The Story Behind His Striking Rise
Erling Haaland was always going to become the ultimate striker and probably the best number 9 on the planet. Also, there’s every possibility that one day, he may become a Ballon D’or winner. But, there’s still one mystery, how did he become the cyborg that he is today?
Haaland continues to be a goal machine, becoming the quickest player in history to reach 20 Champions League goals. His goal from the spot in the UCL round-16 second leg tie against Sevilla was his 20th goal in just 14 appearances in the competition, which broke Harry Kane’s previous record of 24 games.
“Of course he’s fast, powerful, good around the goal and he’s got real soccer sense. But it’s more of his energy, it’s his infectious personality that I think is like a magnet; it draws people to him, it makes people want to be around him.” Those are the words of Red Bull Salzburg manager, Jesse Marsch.
Grab a handful of popcorn and sit back as we unfold the story behind the rise of this Norwegian beast, goal machine, and keeper’s nightmare, Erling Braut Haaland.
Haaland’s Salzburg Breakthrough
As at when Jesse Marsch was appointed as Salzburg manager, Haaland had been at the club for about six months and had only played one game. And then he went to the U-20 World Cup where he scored nine goals in one game.
From his Salzburg debut, Haaland, who had already impressed at the Norwegian league with Bryne and Molde left observers with no doubt about the quality he possesses.
He would become one of the best strikers on the planet because the talent in him was very obvious. In a chat with oh-my-goal, Jesse Marsch revealed that Haaland’s personality was the first thing he fell in love with about Haaland.
“The first couple of days I worked with him, what impressed me more than anything else was his personality on the pitch. He was just relentless! He worked harder than anyone.”
But beyond his raw talent in Salzburg, Erling Haaland left his mark on the locker room with his personality. He had a smile on his face and got along incredibly well with his teammates. Therefore, it wasn’t just his talent, it was his overall energy.
Erling in person had a really positive influence on his teammates. Erling the player, was a selfish assassin who scored 29 goals in 27 appearances for the Austrian club.
Meanwhile, he also always talked about making his teammates happy. “The best memory I Had of him was when we were getting penalties in just about every game, and he was giving them to all the other attacking players.“
“And then, after a player missed a penalty, I said Ok, Erling has to take the penalties and I told him he would be taking the penalties”
“It’s incredible to have such a talented player who loves to score goals, be the one that is giving the penalty responsibilities to the others because he wants them to feel the power of success, the power of scoring goals, and the power of confidence. That says a lot to me about the character of Erling.” Marsch revealed.
At 19, when most people think about personal glory, Haaland was already a perfect teammate and a future leader which was unprecedented for a player as good as he was and in his age range.
Without a doubt, Haaland’s personality was great enthusiastic and it did really have a big effect on a lot of people at Salzburg.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Influence
Erling Haaland may owe his incredible rise to his immense talent and his positive leadership qualities. But that’s not all, Cristiano Ronaldo also played a huge role in Haaland’s evolution.
People often say that Erling Haaland is the next Cristiano Ronaldo but is the CR7 comparison justified?
Certainly, Erling is more of a pure striker than Cristiano but from a power football perspective, his ability in the transition to affect games like the Portuguese ace makes the comparison justifiable.
Haaland himself admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo was his role model but if like Cristiano, Erling broke all the goalscoring records, it’s not really the part of football that CR7 has influenced.
Haaland is following in Cristiano Ronaldo’s footsteps in terms of leadership and he even is now a role model to many players just like Ronaldo was to him.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had positive effects on his teammates and in every team, he’s played in which really helped him overtime right from his days at Manchester United and Real Madrid. But for Erling, one could really see that right from his young age that it’s a natural quality he has.
It will be up to Haaland to continue to modify that aspect of himself and mold that in a way that he can become a really strong leader within his teams as he continues to grow older.
Above all, Haaland took inspiration from Cristiano Ronaldo in one essential area, work ethic. Like CR7, he’s always hungry to improve. “He really worked hard a lot. After training, he would stick around to finish, to hit some crosses, to work on his heading.” – Jesse Marsch, RB Salzburg Coach.
Like CR7, Erling Haaland thinks every little detail counts. He would wear special glasses because he felt like when you look at your computer all day long or your cell phone, that your eyes would start to fade and so he had that special glasses he always wears.
And while he has his own personality, Erling is directly inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo especially when it comes to nutrition and work ethic by picking the most hardworking professional football player in history as his role model.
Perfect With BVB
Borussia Dortmund activated his €20 million (£17m/$22m) release clause, beating United and Leipzig to his signature after all three clubs held meetings with the player, his father, and agent Mino Raiola.
Borussia Dortmund already had forward Paco Alcacer on the books, but saw Haaland as such a generational talent, that they were willing to offload the Spain international to give the Norwegian teen an even better chance of success.
CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke says that they had been looking for someone with Haaland’s particular skill set for a long time and could not pass up the opportunity to sign him.
“We always wanted to have a center-forward who has a different way of playing football,” Watzke told Goal and DAZN. “But this guy also had to come onto the market first.
There are not many who are 1.94 meters (6 ft 4 in) tall and that fast. Actually, nobody else comes to mind. It was just an opportunity that you don’t get very often. – Goal.com
Dortmund offered the striker the best chance of regular game time as they promised to make him their first-choice striker, something Alf-Inge Haaland admits is crucial to his development.
Haaland’s Dortmund story got off to the perfect start with the most incredible debut against Augsburg. Trailing 3-1, Lucien Favre sent on the teenager from the bench and was rewarded with a 22-minute hat-trick to help secure a 5-3 win.
Having revealed all the secrets that make Haaland an outstanding striker, in all honesty, the Norwegian striker has no limit because he keeps getting better at Dortmund.
He was incredible at Salzburg. “We were obviously so sad to lose him so quickly because we had a lot of fun and success with him, but we’re also very proud of him and we’re really excited to see him continue to push himself and move forward and show everybody in the world how good he is.”
And today, he’s showing just how good he is in Germany. He used to only be seen as a superpowered and superfast goalscorer. But at Dortmund? He’s also shown his technical advances and his in-game intelligence and influence.
He’s more and more capable of keeping the ball, playing in different positions, taking part in the game, in short, he’s become the ultimate striker.
Giving his unique skill-set and amazing personality, he will definitely sign for a bigger club in years to come. Yes, he may experience some difficulties, but his quality will help him manage whatever challenge that comes his way and in-turn become the best number 9 of not only his generation but in football history.