‘That’s my little world, you know’ – Former England legend opens up on his gambling addiction

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When footballers finally hang up their boots for good, there seems to be a real need for them to replace the high of match days with something else.

To get a similar buzz to something they’ve been used to, in many cases, for a decade or more.

When things perhaps don’t work out as expected, it isn’t a surprise to learn that some players become addicted to one thing or another.

Former England international goalkeeper, Peter Shilton, is the latest to go public on a gambling problem that he had and which he says took over his life.

It’s hard to reconcile Shilton with the secretive, and often destructive, behaviour of an addict, but in an emotional interview with BBC’s The One Show, he noted how the gambling had gone on for the best part of 45 years.

“[I] Didn’t realise and until I’d stopped gambling that basically I had an addiction,” he said on BBC’s The One Show, cited by the Daily Star. “To me it was a way of life.

“It’s constantly on your mind when am I going to have my next bet and it kind of rules your life. You know, I’d won at football I‘d won trophies but gambling was something I’d always lost at.

“When I was under a lot of pressure playing football it was kind of a relaxation to me to start with.”

Fortunately, it seems that with the help of his wife Steph, Shilton has made it out the other side.

“Gamblers are very secretive, they hide stuff,” he continued.

“I didn’t want anyone to see how much I had won or lost. That’s my business that’s my little world, you know, and I think Steph wanted to break that down.

“[…] I thought to myself what are you doing? What are you doing? You’ve got this lovely relationship – all you do is lose and I think this word lose came into my head all you are doing is losing you’re going to start losing with Steph and just something clicked, the light came on or what and I just said ‘that’s it.’

“I think from that moment my life started again. To be able to face up…..I’m getting a bit emotional now…sorry….. to basically cocking up really, you know, a lot of my life…it’s never too late.

“I had a weakness and finally I managed to conquer that weakness and if I can put that as part of my legacy…. then great.”

Being just the latest ex-player to show a more human side may well endear him to a public that already acknowledge his exemplary service to his country over decades.

Certainly, Peter Shilton deserves to be remembered for his heroics between the sticks rather than anything else.

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