Addiction has been part and parcel of the beautiful game for many years. It affects players in different ways, but one thing is certain, how do we go about tackling it? It is extremely difficult to face head on as it can consume an individual. This in turn can lead to a slippery slope where players can become embroiled in all sorts of strife.
According to the definition in Webster’s dictionary, addiction is described as “a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)”. When it comes to a particular addiction, there are a wide variety of areas in which players become involved. In fact, it becomes much more of habitual routine which often takes place on a daily basis. After all, footballers don’t have a regular nine to five job like ordinary Joe Public.
On the contrary, most players train until mid-afternoon and may do some weight or fitness sessions before heading back to their palatial pads. In this way, they have to fill the gaps where boredom may seep in. It is this monotony that often leads players to focus their attention on something which is a lot more unholy than thou. Instead of playing for matchsticks at the back of the team bus on the way to games, players will often enjoy playing for real money. The value can sometimes be exorbitant and at times can be in excess of $40,000. Several high profile professionals have become tangled up in this footballing web with many playing in the English Premier League. It is with regret but addiction still renders its ugly head in the game. It has not yet dispersed and still plays a role in the life of a host of professionals. Yet what are the 10 biggest footballers addictions of all time?
Over the years there has been a wealth of footballers who have unfortunately become embroiled in a little rumpy pumpy to say the least. This features Ryan Giggs who is believed to have had a high profile affair with his brother’s fiancée. This ended up with the former Manchester United man all over the national press. In addition to this, there was the infamous non-handshake between Chelsea’s John Terry and ex-Manchester City left back Wayne Bridge. The former Southampton player publicly humiliated Terry after news reports linked the Blues man to having an alleged affair with his girlfriend at the time, Vanessa Perroncel. This was all played out in front of the cameras when Chelsea came up against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
9 Cards (Gambling)
It often ends with many upset faces but playing cards is considered to be one of the biggest addictions of the lot. Often in order to pass the time on long coach journeys, players will often indulge in a little jack, king action. From Patience to Blackjack, many professionals will play a series of expensive hands that often involves heavy losses. One former player Michael Chopra recounts the time he was a professional and playing cards. The ex-Cardiff City and Sunderland striker started off on Tyneside playing in the black and white of Newcastle Untied. After he made his debut at just the tender age of 17, Chopra was often witness to players losing significant amounts of cash. This would include several individuals losing up to around $50,000 at one sitting.
All too often, we certainly know the dangers of those get rich quick schemes. Yet, some footballers fall prey to cheap pyramid schemes where a so called quick return is guaranteed. However, this is down to an initial lump sum which most people will never see again. Whether it is down to misinformation or simply bad advice, some players will not leave well enough alone. In more recent times, some players to have lost a fortune thanks to bad investments include former Hull City midfielder Jimmy Bullard as well as LA Galaxy forward Robbie. Both were caught up in a $60 million scheme which was to lose them millions.
There have been all sorts of controversy as far as smoking is concerned. This addiction is right up there as it can cause significant damage to not only your lungs but other parts of the body. Nicotine is addictive and in spite of the development of electronic cigarettes, several players have been victim to smoking. Some of the culprits that have not been able to curb this particular addiction have been Wayne Rooney and even a few Arsenal players. Most recently, Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere has courted the back page headlines thanks to this particular habit. He has committed a couple of smoking related offences which has not gone unnoticed. The pint sized player has had a severe telling off from manager Arsene Wenger but this has not stopped others from enjoying a puff. Polish shot stopper Wojciech Szczesny was also caught having a few crafty smokes in the showers and was subsequently fined more than $40,000 for this incident. This came after the 2-0 defeat on New Year’s Day defeat to Ronald Koeman’s Southampton.
6 Horse Racing
Football has always had a long history with the sport of kings. This dates back to the 1960s when former Southampton legend Mick Channon started to dabble in horse racing. His passion for the sport later developed and now he currently owns a number of different animals. On the other hand, there is Mick Quinn who is at present one of the most infamous horse racing owners who was once a footballer. Previously playing for Coventry City, the Scouser owns several race horses. The most famous of them all is of course ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who was involved in the ownership of the Rock of Gibraltar.
5 Computer Games
Another addiction which is underestimated in footballing circles is the deep passion for computer games. As we all are aware of, gaming is now an integral part of many audio visual entertainment systems found within the home. Whether it is a PlayStation or Xbox, millions of fans enjoy taking on the mantle of their favourite player in FIFA 15. Yet some players have taken gaming to an extraordinary level. Whilst some are being paid millions of dollars to endorse them including Lionel Messi, some have even used them as part of their analysis. This includes former Liverpool goalkeeper David James who during his playing career used soccer games to improve his positioning and more.
4 La Dolce Vita
The good life is also prevalent among many footballers who strive to buy the best possessions. It is more of a case of keeping up with the Jones as some players have taken living the extravagant lifestyle very seriously. From fish tanks in Stephen Ireland's former house to Ferraris gracing the driveway, players like to indulge in a spot of spending. This can range from anything such as a multi-million dollar property to luxury holidays in Barbados. As the season starts to wind down, there are some players that have already got their flip flops on. One prime example is Conor Wickham who splashed out over $30,000 on a Nebuchadnezzar of champagne on his trip to Spain.
3 Social Media
Currently, it is de rigour in footballing circles to have a social media account. Whether players are on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, it has opened up several new ways of engaging not to mention interacting with their fans. It provides people into gaining insight into the man behind the shirt. More and more players are embracing social media and are regularly updating their profiles with images and comments in spite of the nature of what they might say. It has landed several players in hot water such as Mario Balotelli after he was charged for a post which allegedly contained racist remarks. The Italian striker forwarded an image of Super Mario via Instagram which featured "jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew."
One of the most high profile names who has been caught up in drug scandals included Paul Merson. The one time Aston Villa and Arsenal midfielder had a cocaine habit at one point during his playing days. All in all the former Gunner blew upwards of $10 million on a host of addictions, one of which was to drugs. Another known individual who had a prevalent problem with drugs was ex-Premier League man Michael O’Connor. In these circles, drugs are readily available and he often had a penchant for specific cocaine fuelled parties. In addition, the Scottish player declared that he used to take cocaine as many as three times during a single week. Meanwhile, the ex-Scottish international has ended up bankrupt and in a council run house costing in the region of $140 a week.
One of the greatest footballers of all time had a long battle with alcohol before he succumbed to it. Former Manchester United icon George Best literally had the world at his feet. But a mixture of drugs not to mention women and most predominately alcohol was something he could not eradicate. This addiction has endangered so many footballers over the years that there are just too many to mention. Paul Gascoigne has to be up there in terms of the most high profile footballers to have a genuine addiction to alcohol. At one time, Gazza was drinking heavily and had numerous problems with his ex-wife Cheryl. He has been in and out of rehabilitation clinics and relapsed several times already. His footballing friends have come to rescue to the extent where Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer paid for the former Spurs star to attend the Cottonwood clinic in Arizona. Nowadays, he cuts a forlorn figure from the one dancing across the pitch at Italia 90.