Former England star Andros Townsend has opened up about how gambling almost ruined his career.
In an article for The Players’ Tribune, the Crystal Palace winger wrote about how when out on loan as a youngster, he started betting out of boredom.
Earning around £3,000 a week at the time, he recalled the occasion he lost £46,000 in one night.
Townsend wrote: “I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I don’t think I’ve ever been inside a nightclub in my life.
“And yet I still managed to lose 46 grand with just one tap on my phone. I didn’t even have to leave my room. I’m probably the only lad in history to lose £46,000 lying in bed on a Wednesday night in Blackpool.”
He first started gambling when he was bored before a match, saying: “I downloaded the app and had a little bet to pass the time. Within a few months, I was out of control.”
The Premier League star said he had always been driven to try and be the best at everything he does, and that “It was the same with gambling, except it doesn’t work like that.”
On the eve of Birmingham’s most important game of the season – the 2012 play-off semi-final against Blackpool – he lost almost four month’s wages betting on one match.
“That was rock bottom for me. Because you feel absolutely empty. You’re supposed to be focused on football, the thing that you love, and the only thing you can think of is, ‘How can I get my money back?’”
He admits he didn’t stop until he was caught placing illegal bets in June 2013. Charged by the FA and facing the prospect of a twelve-month ban, he ‘snapped back to reality’.
He returned to Tottenham Hotspur and just four months later made his England debut.
He credits his turnaround to receiving counselling for his addiction.