After a long summer break, the Premier League is almost upon us. With more money than ever before being thrown around it promises to be a thrilling season. But, as the first game approaches, you’re probably bored of reading various pundits offering their predictions on how the league will shape up. So, here at Lucky Nugget Casino we thought we’d offer a different perspective on England’s top flight.
We look at five Premier League players over the years who spent a bit too much time away from football and got involved with the entertainment and excitement that playing at the casino brings.
To younger readers, he’s the pundit on TV, but Paul Merson had a great career as a player before making the switch. A creative attacking midfielder, Merson is best remembered for his time at Arsenal, as well as representing England, on the pitch. Yet, he was also one to make the headlines for various other reasons off it, including his battles with drink, drugs and gambling.
Now in a much better place, Merson has revealed how his 20-year gambling spree cost him around £7m, including his £800,000 pension in just a few months. Whether it was the casino, cricket or even American football, there wasn’t much that he wouldn’t bet on.
A left-midfielder, Matthew Etherington really rose to prominence whilst playing for Stoke City in the Premier League under Tony Pulis. His performances even drew attention from the national team, although he was never capped. However, despite his low-key and quiet approach on the pitch, Etherington had been fighting a gambling problem since early in his career.
After joining West Ham in 2003, the club gave him a £300,000 loan to help with a £800,000 debt that he had accrued through gambling. It wasn’t until he joined Stoke, six years later, that Etherington began to address his problem. All in all, he believes that he lost £1.5m and now looks to help players who encounter any similar issues.
Manchester United and England’s record goal scorer has been in the news this summer for making his dream return to boyhood club Everton. Although, away from talk about his transfer, Rooney also hit the headlines for an extravagant gambling spree at a local Manchester casino. The forward was believed to have lost around £500,000 in just two hours play on blackjack and roulette tables. That works out to more than £4,000 a minute!
And, it’s not the first time the Liverpudlian had been in the news for gambling. He admitted in his autobiography that wife Coleen was furious after he lost £50,000 during his early days as a professional, whilst he’s also been spotted playing with fellow team-mates in casinos over the years.
Michael Chopra had a relatively short Premier League spell in the Premier League in a career that started with local side Newcastle United and it was there that he began his serious gambling addiction. Chopra revealed how £30,000 could be staked on card games between team-mates including Alan Shearer and Michael Owen.
Things would get worse for the striker, who admitted that he moved from Cardiff to Sunderland in order to pay off his debts. Years later, after joining Ipswich Town he took a £250,000 loan from the club after loan sharks turned up to the club’s training ground to threaten the player. Overall, Chopra is believed to have blown £2m, betting on a range of different sports.
Eidur Gudjohnsen had a terrific career that saw him win trophies for both Chelsea and Barcelona, but it was his time in London that saw the skilled forward spend a lot of time in the casino. Team-mate Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink revealed that the two of them would often spend time on the blackjack and roulette tables because they didn’t want to go home to their girlfriends.
The forward revealed that he himself lost £40,000 in one night and Gudjohnsen had similar bad luck at the tables. Overall, the Iceland international lost around £400,000 from a habit that he said “started mainly out of boredom and killing time” whilst at Chelsea, with reports later in his career claiming that figure had reached many millions.