When suddenly confronted with disposable income beyond their wildest dreams, Premier League footballers are faced with a conundrum: what the Dickens should they spend it on? Michael Owen and Joey Barton indulge their taste for racehorses, Mario Balotelli fritters it away on quad bikes and fireworks, and Ryan Giggs allocates a large proportion of his remuneration package to superinjunctions.
Some footballers, however, have used their disproportionate spending power to fund a gambling habit. One such player is Ipswich Town striker Michael Chopra, who has this week admitted to betting away more than most of us will earn in a lifetime. The Guardian reports:
"As the years have come along and I've earned more money I've started to gamble more. I was gambling up to £20,000 a day at times. As soon as I'd step over the white line I would focus on football — but as soon as I got to the dressing room I would check my phone to see if I'd won."
"In my first season at Cardiff I had a gambling debt from when I was at Newcastle. I had to leave Cardiff and sign for another team to pay that debt off. I have probably lost between £1.5m and £2m on gambling."
While the addiction certainly influenced his career path, Chopra implies that it didn't affect his game on the pitch. Yet he did risk his health and livelihood by playing through injury to cover debts:
"As a gambler you want to be playing to get the appearance money. I was playing through injury to cover a debt."
Chopra recently checked into Tony Adams' Sporting Chance Clinic, the Premier League's version of the Betty Ford Center, which was founded by Tony Adams. He's not the first player to deprive those poor Lamborghini dealerships of a sale: Paul Gasgoigne and Paul Merson both admitted to long battles with Gamblor, and Stoke winger Matthew Etherington admitted to spaffing away £1.5m during his days at West Ham.