Leading a double life
Former England soccer goalkeeper Peter Shilton has revealed that he spent 45 years living a “double life” as a gambling addict. Shilton opened up for the first time about his past in an interview with the Daily Mail. He then took to Twitter to share his story:
The 70-year-old said his compulsion “took off really badly” with the arrival of online gambling. It was only after he lost tens of thousands of pounds that he was able to escape from the hold that betting companies had over him. He added:
I’ve won at most things in my life, in terms of my career, but I’ve never won at gambling.”
Admitting his past
Shilton felt compelled to talk about his past after hearing stories of young soccer professionals, such as Lewis Keogh, who took their lives over gambling addiction.
The former goalkeeper, who holds the record for caps won by an England player, said he was appalled by the “frightening” epidemic of online gambling. As a result, he has started working with the UK government to raise awareness about the effects of gambling, including mental health problems.
Shilton, who played for 11 clubs including Nottingham Forest and represented England at three World Cups, said he lived “two lives, one as a very dedicated footballer, and another where I was addicted to gambling.”
He admitted “it was easy to sit around and gamble” as a soccer player with plenty of free time on his hands. He didn’t realize his addiction until he actually stopped.
Shilton’s family life
Hooked on gambling during his 30-year career, which saw him regularly place bets until 3 am, Shilton saw his first marriage break down in 2011.
In 2012, he met his second wife, Steph, whom he married in 2016. He credits her with helping him give up gambling in 2015.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain earlier today, the former England goalkeeper spoke about how he started to overcome his problem after a bad weekend of gambling. “I knew Steph knew and I didn’t want to lose Steph and I knew she wasn’t happy. I thought to myself, What are you doing, you’ve never won at gambling?”
Plagued by gambling debts, the now 70-year-old said he hasn’t placed a bet in five years. Both he and his wife are working with UK Sports Minister Nigel Adams and Arts Minister Helen Whately to discuss the necessary steps to tackle problem gambling. The couple are also working with local charity Gambling with Lives.
Shilton had words of encouragement for those battling gambling addiction:
I want people to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can stop, that’s my message to anyone who is struggling.”