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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Merson battles gambling addiction
Portsmouth midfielder Paul Merson
Merson's gambling addiction has driven him to despair
Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp will back Paul Merson's battle to beat a gambling addiction which has pushed the former England midfielder to the brink of suicide.

Merson has fought past battles with alcoholism and drug addiction and recently booked into the Sporting Chance clinic, set up by former Arsenal team-mate Tony Adams.

The Pompey skipper admits he is unable to stop betting and has run up huge losses, including 30,000 on the outcome of one football match.

Merson broke down and wept at a news conference eight years ago where he admitted his drink and cocaine addictions.

Gambling has beat me, spanked me all over the place
Paul Merson

The former Arsenal, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough star said: "I've stayed away from drink and drugs but gambling has beat me, spanked me all over the place.

"This is one of the biggest killers in the world. Every day it would go through my head about committing suicide."

Merson has been an infuential figure in Pompey's march into the Premiership, and recently vowed to give it one more crack in the top flight.

Pompey boss Redknapp said: "I've spoken to Paul and I'm trying to help him.

"He's told me how he can't think about anything else other than his next bet.

"He has to get himself sorted out. A top player like Paul can earn a fortune in this game but you only get one chance."


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