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Former Football Star Paul Ifill Opens Up about Gambling Addiction

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Wellington Phoenix's former striker and cult hero, Paul Ifill, has recently shared his harrowing experience with gambling addiction, which led to staggering losses of £2 million (approximately $4.1 million) during his playing days. Ifill, who scored 33 goals in 106 appearances for the Phoenix, has shared his story to raise awareness about the perils of gambling.

From Sporting Success to Hidden Struggles

His career was marked by success on the field, but it was marred by a hidden battle with addiction. Ifill's gambling spiraled out of control, reaching the point where he would place bets on raindrops rolling down his apartment window. He candidly discussed his struggle with James Marshall on the What A Lad podcast.

I tried to work it out when I started doing the gambling talks with the rugby, and I reckon I lost about £2 million.

Paul IfillFormer Footballer

Ifill pointed to the mid-2000s as the turning point when online gambling became prevalent. The combination of online accessibility, substantial earnings as a professional footballer, and a culture of betting within the locker rooms all contributed to his gambling addiction.

During his tenure with the Phoenix, Ifill made some shocking admissions, revealing, “I was betting on myself to score first in games, which is definitely highly illegal.” He further disclosed that while playing for Sheffield United and Crystal Palace, he would wager as much as $20,000 a day on bets.

“My biggest bets were probably £5000, maybe £10,000 on the things that I thought were real bankers,” he confessed. His gambling habits became a relentless cycle. He described days when he would withdraw £4000 from the bank, spend it at the bookies within hours, return to the bank for another £5000, and repeat the pattern.

“There were days I’d do £10,000 and then go the next day and do the same. Then you’re borrowing money to get through to the end of the month, so it just racked up," Ifill admitted.

His earnings, which reached £9000 a week during his stints with Sheffield United and Palace, were no match for his extravagant gambling expenditures. Ifill was spending around £10,000 to £11,000 a week, resulting in mounting gambling debts. He explained that he would constantly borrow money, relying on credit to sustain his gambling habits.

Battling Gambling Addiction and Finding Freedom

During his time at Sheffield United, Ifill shared a room with Northern Irish footballer Keith Gillespie, who also struggled with a severe gambling addiction. Gillespie's losses exceeded $14 million throughout his career. Ifill reminisced, “It was a mess. We were ridiculous. We used to bet on raindrops racing down the window, and flies landing on walls."

Their bets would range from mundane to bizarre, as Ifill recalled, “We’d bet on anything. If there was no football on, we’d bet on ice hockey somewhere, or we’d be betting on the NFL.”

Fortunately, Ifill emerged from his addiction six years ago and has remained gambling-free ever since. His story serves as a powerful reminder of the devastating impact of gambling addiction and the importance of seeking help and support when facing such challenges.

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