England footballing hero Peter Shilton’s gambling addiction cost him millions – and nearly ended his marriage.
The 71-year-old is regarded as one of the best to ever pull on an England shirt, making more than 1,200 club appearances – including two European Cup wins at Nottingham Forest – and 125 for the Three Lions.
But the former shot-stopper has been very public in his battle with gambling addiction, which covered 45 years of his life.
And the ex-England goalkeeper has revealed that the addiction came close to costing him emotionally as well as financially.
Speaking to This Morning ahead of the launch of new book ‘Saved: Overcoming A 45-year Gambling Addiction’, Shilton said: “I was just very young.
“I always liked horse racing, not so much the machine games which are even more toxic these days but just a love of racing.
“It started out as a hobby but, like we all know, it becomes an addiction. Not to everybody but a lot of people have got it.
“And it just creeps up on you. You suddenly start just gambling every day.
“The thing is even if you win you’re on a high but if you lose you’re on a high because you’ve had the excitement.
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“And that’s the big draw that gambling has for people.”
Shilton has previously admitted to losing £20,000 on one day, with reports saying he lost £800,000 to one betting firm.
But it hit home when his wife caught the former goalkeeper in the act, with Shilton adding: “I went upstairs and phoned an agent to ask for money for a job I’d already done. He said ‘I’ll pay you early Peter’.
“And as I looked round, Steph was stood there and I could see her face. And I knew that I think I was going to lose her. I knew deep down I needed a better life.
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“Since that moment, I go past a betting shop now, and I go a bit nausea. I know what that means. To me, it would never ever return.”
Steph, Shilton’s wife of 51 years, joined her husband on the This Morning couch and said: “I became the investigator really.
“So we were having this life of cat and mouse I think because I needed to find out if my suspicion was right because you become so suspicious with this sort of behaviour.
“When I opened the bank statement while Pete was in India, it was a mixture of emotions.
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“I knew I’d breached his personal, private mail but at the same time it was a huge shock.
“There was nine or 10 pages. I just got the calculator out and I could clearly see it was all going to one betting company.
“I felt sick, I had a panic attack. I was so frightened for Pete more than anything because I suddenly realised it was chronic.”
Shilton has since recovered from the addiction, writing the book with his wife as he hopes to prevent others from falling victim to the same challenges he faced.
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The England hero said: “I managed to overcome it with Steph’s help, the addiction. Steph calls it an illness.
“And I felt that there’s a big epidemic of gambling out there and it’s getting worse and worse.
“I think it’s a bit hidden from the public and there’s a lot of people who can’t quit, with some suicides.
“I felt that I quit and I got the experience. I felt I had to really let people know how bad it was so they could trust me to say ‘look, this is how you overcome it and stop and have a better life’.”
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