A starting XI of gambling footballers is a rather odd thing to compile. The list of players runs long, and whilst not always a problem for some players with vast amounts of money in their hands there is the temptation to blow it all.
We’ve chosen to go for a classic 3-5-2 formation given the bias towards Premier League players from the 1990s and 2000s.
In attack Kevin Kyle of Hearts partners Wayne Rooney, who ran up £700,000 of gambling debt in 2006. This was mainly on dogs, horses and football, which brought to light renewed concerns over gambling culture within modern top flight football as a form of relaxation.
The midfield is a mix of skill and grit, with an obvious choice in Paul Merson on the right, a player whose name immediately comes to mind when casinos are mentioned. He was one of the first players jettisoned in the Wenger reign and claims to have lost £7 million to gambling and cocaine addiction. Meanwhile on the other flank Matthew Etherington provides some width as a decent left winger. The Stoke City midfielder gambled regularly as a West Ham player until events became too much for him, and the club had to help bail him out. In the centre is ex-Chelsea and Barcelona player Eidur Gudjohnsen who lost £400,000 in casinos.
Didi Hamann and Michael Johnson form a midfield duo, which is surprisingly solid, if lacking a little in pace. Didi Hamann formerly of Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City built up a £600,000 debt and was under threat of legal action to repay the cash. Meanwhile fellow Man City player Michael Johnson was an exciting young talent who struggled with alcohol and gambling, and lost his way.
In defence John Terry, lines up with old pal Wayne Bridge, both of whom used to spend vast sums on dogs and horses in their days together at Chelsea. This pairing is slightly awkward in more ways than one, as Bridge is more accustomed to a role out wide. Finally Jonathon Woodgate makes up the third defender, a man who was reported to have lost £1.8 million in casinos. Meanwhile the ‘keeper Roy Carroll was also reported to have suffered problems at West Ham.
The topic of gambling amongst footballers is one of public interest and debate, with worthwhile research being conducted into the causes and consequences for the modern game. The habit has been widely commented on in the media, and with more revelations in recent years, looks set to continue.