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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 12:36 GMT
How to lose 50,000 the football way
Anyone for a game of snap?

Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen has blown the lid off the secret world of footballers' gambling.

But who bets on what, and how much do they bet?

Follow the spectacular punting examples of these famous faces, and you too could find a lot less of that annoying paper stuff cluttering up your wallet.


Gee-gees joy

The backbone of any good football gambler's spending.

Keith Gillespie in his Newcastle days
Gillespie hears the result of the first at Plumpton
We're not talking here about lobbing a measly quid on the club's Grand National sweepstake.

No - the way to do it is stick 10,000 on some three-legged donkey which pulls up lame at the first fence, and then to attempt to claw back your losses by repeating the trick for every race left on the card.

The modern-day master of this old ruse is Keith Gillespie, who, in his Newcastle days, managed to run up debts of 48,000 at the bookies with a succession of ever more laughable punts.


Calamity casino

Casinos have a reputation as impossibly cool palaces of glamour, inhabited by gorgeous women who drape themselves all over anyone who wins a single round of blackjack.

It's like a drug - you start on 20 or 30 but once you move up to thousands of pounds you just can't go back

Milwall FC striker Steve Claridge
The reality has more to do with windowless, clock-free, badly-decorated barns filled with glassy-eyed small-time gamblers squandering their savings on games they could never win.

Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen blamed boredom for first attracting him into a casino.

But surely there are cheaper ways of entertaining yourself than racking up debts of 400,000 on the roulette tables?


Card-crazy

How else to pass the time on long coach journeys to away matches than a spot of cards?

Steve Claridge in his Crystal Palace days
Claridge should have spent his cash on a haircut
What could possibly be wrong with an old-fashioned game of Beggar My Neighbour or Clock Patience?

Nothing - unless you're playing for 15,000 a hand, as some England players are alleged to have done at Euro 2000.

But that's peanuts to someone like Steve Claridge, who estimates that he's blown a cool 500,000 on gambling.

Claridge admits he actually sold a two-bedroom house - just to fund a bet.


Football fiddles

Don't worry if horses aren't your thing, or if you can't get into the casino because you don't own a tie.

Why not lay some notes on the outcome of a football match?

Let's make it even easier - do it on the result of a game you're playing in. That way you can control the outcome. No?

Not if you're Paulo Rossi.

The goal-scoring hero of Italy's 1982 World Cup triumph earned a two-year ban from the game after being accused of fixing a 2-2 draw with Avellino in his days at Perugia.


One-off wonders

Here we move into the realm of the true professional, the sort of chap who would bet on anything that moves and most things that don't.

Such a man was Stan Bowles, former QPR and England gambler-supreme.

In late 1973, QPR played Sunderland at Roker Park on the night the home side were proudly displaying the FA Cup they had won earlier that year.

Spotting the old pot sitting on a table in the stands, Bowles instantly bet his team-mates that he could knock it off its perch the first time he got the ball.

True to his word, Stan picked up the ball in the first minute, dribbled across the pitch and let rip - sending the Cup flying, and nearly getting himself lynched by the apoplectic Sunderland fans as a result.


The exception to the rule madness

And finally, the one-in-a-million type of tale that keeps the roulette wheel turning, the gamblers gambling.

In July 1998, seven days after scoring the third goal in France's World Cup final thrashing of Brazil, and hot on the heels of winning the double with Arsenal, Emmanuel Petit wandered into a Monte Carlo hotel with his girlfriend Ariane.

Quite rightly, he considered himself to be on something of a roll.

With that in mind, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a 10 franc piece and stuck it in a fruit machine.

Ker-ching! Ching ching ching! Ching-a-ching-a-ching!

A staggering 17,000 worth of francs tumbled from the machine - leaving Petit a touch overburdened with loose change, but all the happier for it.


See also:

17 Jan 03 | Man Utd
12 Jan 03 | Chelsea
Links to more Football stories are at the foot of the page.


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