Manchester: Gambling has overtaken the demon drink as the main risk for cash-rich footballers, according to former England captain Tony Adams, who battled alcoholism before becoming a saviour for players fighting addiction.
Former England football captain Tony Adams with wife Poppy
Adams, who founded the Sporting Chance clinic having come through his own drink hell, told how old professionals led him to the pub after training, while modern-day stars fall for huge bets and the Internet.
More than 70 percent of footballers, rugby players and stars from other sports, who go through Sporting Chance are in the grip of gambling, according to the Arsenal legend, who is football director for Azerbaijan side Gabala. Adams, a winner of four English League titles, said he had twice turned out for Arsenal when "pissed."
Now however, Adams said the type of addiction had changed. "The illness of addiction is different now. With the internet now, gambling is massive. I think 70 percent of our clients, who come through as patients are gambling addicts. There has been a big shift away from booze to gambling."
Former West Ham winger Matthew Etherington reckons he lost 1.5 million pounds on greyhounds, horses and cards.
Adams' ex-teammate Paul Merson spent 30,000 pounds betting on a football match in the 1990s. Former Newcastle striker Michael Chopra has also been among Sporting Chance's clients having spent a similar amount gambling on the team bus.