The game of football is loaded with money and fame. While on the outside this may seem all that we have ever wanted, the pressure and vices that the riches can bring is something that is often ignored.
As we see several top players bagging big contracts that could offer them money for a lifetime, we also ignore several cases where the lure of money can lead players to gamble and substance abuse. The world where cash is found in abundance has surely led some footballers to disaster and ruined their life for a long time.
To shed light on this topic, Sportskeeda brings to you 5 famous footballers who went bankrupt:
#5 David James
One of the most famous English goalkeepers and the 4th ranked player on all-time Premier League appearances, David James filed for insolvency after a messy divorce with his wife. The player’s bankruptcy came in 2014 after he started drowning in debt.
The goalie divorced his wife Tanya in 2005 where he had to bear huge expenses. Despite earning a massive £20m from his football career, James was unable to pay many of his debts. The player also earned quite a lot of money through a modelling contract with Armani but was unable to undertake the brunt of the expenses.
James sold a lot of his football memorabilia that he had personally collected during the career which included signed shirts, match balls, gloves and the likes. This wasn’t all, James had to put his bikes up for sale as well.
It seems that all is well finally as we’ve seen him as the manager of Kerala Blasters in the ISL and the player currently is a full-time panellist on BT Sports.
#4 John Arne Riise
Liverpool cult hero and left back John Arne Riise made his name in the football world with some great performances for the Reds and his monstrous left foot which could hit the ball with great ferocity. Despite being on wages of over £50,000 per week, Riise filed for bankruptcy in 2007 due to an unpaid debt of £100,000.
Riise was involved in a legal tussle with former agent Einar Baardsen and the case was also linked to a £3million fraud back in Riise’s home Norway. The investigation on the fraud took place in Norway and he was held liable for failing to pay off his debts which he had incurred during a failed business enterprise.
The case didn’t catch much media attention and sources closer to Riise said that it was a case which could easily be resolved in the future. Riise was last seen in the Indian Super League where he played as a left midfielder for Chennaiyin FC.
#3 Brad Friedel
American goalkeeper Brad Friedel was a part of several Premier League teams and was arguably one of the most famous American exports to England. Despite being on a paycheck of over £40,000 a week while at Aston Villa, the goalie was declared bankrupt after it was found that he had debts of over £5 million.
This happened back in 2011 in the United States where it was found that the player's non-profit football academy had bundled up debts which it was unable to pay. Friedel had opened this football academy in his home state of Ohio and had taken loans from RBS Citizens.
The financial institution took Friedel to court over the loan and the proceeding started from there. This is not all as the lender also decided to take over his house which had a value of over £260,000.
Friedel has since then retired and was last seen as an assistant coach for the US U-20 team.
#2 Paul Merson
One of Arsene Wenger’s most hardline critics, Paul Merson, a former Arsenal player enjoyed an illustrious career with the Gunners. The player was a part of a league-winning squad and won an FA Cup as well with the Gunners.
Despite being pretty well off by even those days standards, Merson almost came to the streets after losing out on a lot of money. The former Gunner was plagued with alcohol and drug issues on which he spent money upwards of £3 million.
The player was involved in a messy divorce case and had to sell off his house in the West Midlands to finance many of the problems that he was facing. Things have since then improved for him as he now enjoys a stable job as a TV pundit for Sky Sports where he is a regular for Gilette Soccer Saturday.
#1 Paul Gascoigne
The talented Englishman was a wonderful footballer and excited audiences with his silky gameplay. The player was described the ‘National Football Museum’ and the ‘Most naturally gifted English midfielder of his generation’.
The player started his career at his hometown club of Newcastle but later moved to bigger teams. He made his mark with Tottenham Hotspur and became a club legend at the North London club.
However, his post-retirement life was nothing short of a disaster. The player struggled with severe depression and mental issues which further created problems of drug and alcohol addiction. All these issues saw him owe the tax authorities over £200,000.
The footballer was also jailed several times majorly for drunk driving, cocaine possession and disturbance. Despite having gone to rehab programs, the footballer has relapsed time and again which has ensured that his problems continue to exist.
As of now, the former footballer has entered into a new rehab centre to keep himself alcohol-free for 2017.
Also Read: 5 big clubs which went bankrupt