Revealed – former Premier League winger opens up about gambling problems.
Former Stoke City winger Matthew Etherington has opened up about his problems with gambling addiction that marred his footballing career and cost him a marriage.
The 34-year-old, who also played for West Ham and Tottenham in the Premier League, has made some startling revelations in an interview with The Times.
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Admitting he had too much time on his hands and that he was ‘selfish’, Etherington said: “It’s not just football, it’s rife in this country, but the way the game has gone, fitness-wise, you can’t really get away with drinking. Not like in the old days. You can’t do drugs, obviously. The next vice after that is gambling. Players have a lot of time on their hands, you’re finely-tuned and sometimes you want to recreate that buzz of playing. That’s how you get hooked.
“I lost loads of friendships over it. Some of them I’ve rekindled now, thankfully, but most people who knew me will testify that I wasn’t the nicest person in the world. I wasn’t horrible in the sense that I’d do horrible things, but . . . how can I put it? I was very selfish. All gamblers are selfish. I used to hide everything.
“I’m the worst loser in the world; I play a board game after Sunday dinner and it drives my wife mad how competitive I am. With gambling, it was about getting that win. I couldn’t admit defeat. I thought I could beat it, even when I got into debt. It was never going to happen.”