August 11, 2021 – “I get up in the morning, and I say: ‘Today I will not have a bet, I will not drink, I will not take drugs’,” he says, “that’s doable, but living with this is exhausting, it’s just completely knackering.” 

The former Arsenal and England footballer, who also battled alcohol and drug addiction, gambled away a fortune of more than £7m, but he said it’s not about the money so much as the pain he caused his family.

“I used to think: ‘I’m a nice person but why do I keep on hurting the people I love dearly?’ I just started to think I was a bad person, until I lost £8,000 in one table tennis match, and I realised I was ill.” 

He says sometimes there was a feeling of momentary respite when he’d gambled everything away. “When I’d been in a gambling frenzy for a week or two, then I’d almost feel some relief because there wasn’t nothing left for me to gamble.”

In the last few years, however, Merson lost the savings he and his family had for a house. He says it’s not like when he was a footballer and he’d be able to save up a house deposit in a few months, this was later in life and had taken a long time and a lot of effort and sacrifice to get the money together. 

“I was looking at my kids every day, hating myself and thinking, ‘I’ve just lost your future.’ That was horrible.”


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