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Famous Footballers Who Battled Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a condition that may strike at the peak of success without any prior warning. And football players are no exception!

Some recovered and were able to continue their careers, while others plunged into a heap of trouble. But one thing is for sure: they all regret not being informed and urge people to learn more about it.

From England to Iceland, here are some of the most renowned cases of gambling addiction among football players!

1.      Dietmar Hamann

German midfielder and coach Hamann has been part of major international football clubs, such as Bayern Munich, Liverpool and even Manchester City.

He reached the peak of his career in the 2000s, playing for Germany in multiple FIFA World Cup as well as UEFA European Championships. And he gained even more global notoriety when he advanced to the final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Hamann’s gambling addiction had its onset when he divorced his wife.

He perceived it as a refuge which quickly took a turn for the worse. He has been open about his gambling problems and admitted he lost hundreds of thousands of pounds while betting.

He eventually succeeded to get over it!

2.      Joey Barton

Barton made his football debut in 2002 at Manchester City as a midfielder. He has subsequently moved to different clubs, from Newcastle United to Queens Park Rangers and Burnley.

He also participated in international competitions, such as the 2004 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Recently, has become the manager of Fleetwood Town at the beginning and Bristol Rovers at present.

He has also been the subject of controversy as his gambling addiction and compulsive betting led to a ban from the Football Association. He has admitted this as being a severe problem which many footballers have to surpass.

3.      Matthew Etherington

Etherington is probably best known for his apparition in the 2011 FA Cup Final, as well as his prolific career as a winger and now manager of Peterborough United F.C. In fact, at only 15 years old, he participated in the English Football League.

He gradually climbed the ladder of success, switching between clubs, from Tottenham Hotspur to West Ham United, eventually arriving at Stoke City. He also was forced to retire young, at 33, due to a back injury. But he transformed his misfortune into success and created the well-renowned Professional Player magazine.

Gambling addiction majorly affected his personal and professional life, as he stated in his autobiography entitled ‘Lucky Man’. He lost more than £1 million, but, fortunately, with the help of his family and the support from his fellow colleagues, he managed to surpass addiction.

4.      Kyle Lafferty

Lafferty has been a proud representative of the Northern Ireland national team and a member of the Anorthosis Famagusta FC club.

His career skyrocketed when he played internationally for Northern Ireland at UEFA Euro 2016. Until then, he has continuously moved from one club to another, going through Burnley, Rangers, Palermo, Norwich City and so on.

However, betting eventually got the best of him, and he faced charges by the Football Association. He had to pay £23,000 for his wrongdoing. Since then, he has sought professional help and managed to resist the temptation to gamble again.

5.      Dominic Matteo

With a reputable professional career that lasted no less than 17 years, Matteo retired young from football at 35 years old. He was a midfielder and a defender at 5 popular football clubs, including Liverpool, Sunderland, and Stoke City.

He started with a YTS contract since he was 16, escalating to a 1-year contract, 2 years later. After making his appearance in the Premier Leads in 1993, he was acquired by Leeds United. Throughout his career, he had almost 300 appearances in Premier Leads.

And we cannot forget about his incredible goal against AC Milan, in the Champions League. Unfortunately, a back injury ended his career, along with declaring bankruptcy back in 2015.

He didn’t shy away from explaining the struggles he went through with his gambling addiction. In his autobiography named ‘In My Defence’ explained the beginnings of his gambling habits, losing as much as £100,000 on Horse Betting while on a commute in the back of the car. He lost 1 million pounds, but luckily, he bounced back and managed to get out of his addiction!

He hopes that his book will come as a beacon of hope for those who followed the same gambling path as him and inspire them to seek help.

6.      Michael Chopra

Michael Chopra is very well known for his remarkable achievements as a striker, securing a place at some of the most renowned English football clubs. Starting his football career at Newcastle United, he then moved to Cardiff City and began to gain recognition. He actually earned an appearance at the PFA Team of the Year back in 2006.

He then ping-ponged between Sunderland and Cardiff and eventually landed in the Kerala Blasters Club, participating in the 2016 Indian Super League.

However, things went south when his gambling got out of control and led him into serious million-dollar debt. In fact, his passion for gambling started young, when he bet large sums of money while on the bus with his teammates from Newcastle. Even more, his betting habits were deemed questionable, and he was even charged by the British Horseracing Authority.

7.      Eidur Gudjohnsen

Gudjohnsen has had a career filled with great achievements over the span of no less than 22 years. He has played together with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Ronaldo, and has received global recognition through his outstanding performance at Chelsea and Barcelona.

Yet, he actually started in England, at the Bolton Wanderers F.C. club. Undoubtedly, he reached the pinnacle of his career when he won the 2008-2009 UEFA Champions League as part of Barcelona. His international appearances didn’t stop there, having moved from Athens to Belgium and to Bolton.

At the present moment, Gudjohnsen has been named manager of the Icelandic FH.

He struggled with gambling addiction and ended up losing hundreds of thousands of pounds to Blackjack and Roulette bets.


Regardless of success, money and overall fame, gambling addiction can have a rapid onset and a devastating influence upon anyone. They managed to overcome this condition and make it a subject of awareness for football generations to come.

Thus, gambling and responsibility must always go hand in hand!

Article title: Famous Footballers Who Battled Gambling Addiction

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