A 28-year-old Scottish football striker has hit back at reports that his absence from the field at a rehab centre is down to a gambling or drug habit.
Leigh Griffiths, the striker for Scottish Premiership club Celtic, is reported to have checked into rehab last month due to “ongoing issues,” according to Brendan Rodgers, manager at Celtic.
In December, Rodgers said that: “Leigh will be out of football for a little period of time. He’s had ongoing issues for a number of months. He’s reached a point where it’s a struggle for him. We are going to give him all the professional help he needs to get him back in a good place.
“He’s a great guy, but football and life is tough for him right now. We want to help him with that and we’ll let you know when he’s back.”
“I won’t be silenced”
However, following the announcement in mid-December, it wasn’t long before claims were being circulated that Griffiths’ absence may be down to a gambling problem. In a report from the Daily Mail last month, it suggested that “gambling troubles” may have been a factor in Griffiths’ decision to step away from football for an “indefinite period”.
More recently, the Sun reported the striker pictured at the Newcastle Races over the weekend, adding that he was “currently on a break to fight personal demons including a gambling addiction”.
However, since then the 28-year-old striker has hit out at claims that he has a gambling or drug problem.
Taking to social media yesterday, Griffiths wrote: “I am off work due to my mental health state. Not gambling, drugs, or any other issue that has been written about me since December. The stories, the tweets, the lies that come out people’s mouths is laughable, but I suppose if they are talking about me, they are leaving someone else alone.
“I’m putting this out there now because family and friends are being asked questions and they’ve been told to say nothing. But I’ll not be silenced.”
In response to his message, followers of the Celtic striker reached out with words of encouragement, with many calling for him to remain strong against what’s been said about him.
Following the news of Griffiths’ indefinite leave, to show their support of him, Celtic fans unfurled a banner that said: “It’s okay not to be okay. You’ll never walk alone, Leigh.”
Whether or not it’s a gambling-related issue is not known. According to Neil Lennon, the head coach who signed the striker for Celtic in January 2014, he said in December: “I don’t know what the issue is or the problems he’s having, but he’ll come through it with support. And he needs to talk about it and deal with it as quickly as possibly.”
In this instance, it shows how easy it is for a person’s reputation to quickly and easily be tarnished by speculating about gambling issues. It’s not known whether that is the case, but just because someone is taking time off work to deal with issues, doesn’t necessarily mean they have problems with gambling or drugs.