Former Newcastle striker joined rival club to pay off debts

November 3, 2011 No Comments

Ipswich striker Michael Chopra has admitted to losing up to £2 million due to an addiction to gambling.

The former Newcastle, Cardiff and Sunderland player confessed to playing whilst injured in order to cover the debt he owed. Having recently checked into the Sporting Chance Clinic in an effort to battle his addiction, he revealed that he would regularly gamble up to £20,000 a day.

The 27-year old told Sky Sports News: “Your first bet is your worst bet. 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.

“As a gambler you want to be playing to get the appearance money. I was playing through injury to cover a debt.”

Having played for the likes of Watford, Nottingham Forest, Cardiff and Norwich as well as Premier League clubs Newcastle and Sunderland, Michael Chopra has had a varied career.

Now seeking help for his addiction, he admitted that his problems were recognised early on by his current Ipswich boss Paul Jewell – as the first thing he would do after games was check his phone for gambling results.

“In my first season at Cardiff I had a gambling debt from when I was at Newcastle,” the striker revealed. “I had to leave Cardiff and sign for another team to pay that debt off.

“The main thing now is to get promoted with Ipswich. They’ve backed me and I want to pay them back.”

Michael Chopra is not the only footballer who has struggled with gambling issues, former Leeds player Dominic Matteo also admitted to losing £1 million on the horses.

During his time playing for Blackburn six years ago, he reportedly started betting. He told the Daily Mail: “A lot of it is down to boredom. I used to bet when I was being driven to and from training at Blackburn. I knew from speaking to Michael Owen and Keith Gillespie that boredom was part of the problem for them.

“Once, I put £100,000 on a horse priced at evens, only for it to lose. I reckon I must have lost around £1 million in total. That’s disgusting and I’m disgusted with myself for losing that much money.”

According to the former Leeds and Liverpool player, it was the birth of his first child Luisa which helped him kick the habit.

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