Former Sunderland and Newcastle player Michael Chopra opens up about his gambling addiction as he backs campaign to help footballers quit betting
The 36-year-old retired striker believes more needs to be done by football authorities to prevent players following his own path to gambling addiction as he urged anyone struggling to seek help this Christmas.
His career took him from his hometown club Newcastle to Cardiff, Sunderland and Ipswich, along with pitstops in India and Scotland.
But Chopra spent much of his playing days fighting a gambling addiction that led him to spend time with the Sporting Chance clinic set-up by Tony Adams, who earlier this year said football is dealing with a gambling “epidemic”.
Earlier this year, details were confirmed for a clinic based at the city’s Beacon of Light through the NHS Northern Gambling Service to help people with their issues.
The betting industry is inextricably linked with sport – with Chopra pointing out half of the sponsors of the top flight clubs are gambling companies – and he believes work needs to be done to help the players of tomorrow.
He continues to take his addiction “day by day” and is supporting the TalkBanStop campaign, launched by GamCare, Gamban and Gamstop to offer support to help people kickstart their recovery.
“Now I know the FA are trying to put a big clampdown saying that professional footballers are not allowed to bet on any football at all," said Chopra, who splits his time between Amsterdam and Jakarta, where he works on a football academy to develop Indonesian talent.
“But, look, I know myself, I know other players still bet.
"They get somebody else to do it, so you can’t stop it. It’s impossible.”
Backing the campaign and its hotline he said: “You can call it, you can speak to people, you’ve got self-exclusion, you’ve got software.
“Look, don’t be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid about because the end of the day there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
To find out more, visit www.talkbanstop.com.