Ex-top flight footballer speaks out about betting addiction

A former Premier League footballer who was addicted to gambling has spoken of blowing his whole monthly wages in just two weeks.

Matthew Etherington, who played for Tottenham, West Ham and Stoke City, says he has now stopped, but staying away from betting remains a battle.

Etherington explained that his gambling addiction was so strong that at one point he put it ahead of buying petrol for his car.


He said the combination of large amounts of both money and time was a recipe for disaster.

Etherington got himself into £800,000 of debt, and it was only after his family intervened that he stopped.

In the following months he was named Player of the Year at Stoke.

Bet on credit

The ex-footballer told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that he would spend a month’s wages – around £120,000 – in just two weeks.

He said that bookies at sporting events would allow him to bet on credit but that he would later try to evade them if he was losing by the end of the evening.

Etherington said his gambling addiction meant he got his priorities completely wrong, and that he turned into a compulsive liar.


He has been greatly helped by Gamblers Anonymous, and has not placed a bet since 2009.

Last year another former Premiership footballer told of how a lifelong gambling habit resulted in bankruptcy.

Keith Gillespie played for Manchester United, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers but said he lost more than £7 million through gambling and bad investments.


Gillespie said: “A low point came at 20 after a 48-hour gambling spree when I lost £47,000 in one day, only to lose £15,000 the next.

“I blew a total of £62,000 in just two days. When the press got hold of it, it was difficult having to ring my mum and explain I’d blown money that she could only dream of.

“It was sickening”, he said, “because, as a gambler, you’re always trying to chase that next winner. It was also the last race of the day, so it wasn’t like I could try to win it back.

“I had all sorts of feelings going through my head. I was in my second year at Newcastle earning £1,400 a week and I knew I was in big trouble.”

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