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Football stars who blew their fortune and ended up broke – Ronaldinho, Asamoah Gyan, Celestine Babayaro and others

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For many, the game of football is a wide road to fortune. At the height of their football careers, some stars live like kings and princes. They drive flashy cars, rent and buy houses fit for kings, wear designer clothes, and have access to most luxuries of life.

While many are able to sustain their enviable lifestyles, for others, a common trend is the oscillation from rags to riches and back again.

We today take a look back at several high-profile stars who blew their millions on booze, bets, and.. football academies.

RONALDINHO

 Brazil star Ronaldinho was said to have just £5 to his name

Brazil star Ronaldinho was said to have just £5 to his name Credit: CEN / ronaldinhooficial

Brazil’s legendary star was reported to have just £5 in his bank account back in 2018 while still owing debts of up to £1.75million.

Ronaldinho was heavily fined for illegal construction in a protected area in Brazil.

Despite remortgaging his property, the former Barcelona star was still unable to cover the debts which saw a judge order for Ronaldinho’s passport to be seized.

ASAMOAH GYAN

 Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan was understood to be broke

Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan was understood to be broke Credit: Instagram

The former Sunderland striker used to drive around in a Rolls-Royce but was claimed to have just £600 in his bank account back in 2018 whilst being unable to provide for his family.

Gyan who was reportedly earning £227,000-a-week at Shanghai SIPG, bizarrely seems to have lost all his money amid a fallout with his family.

DIEGO MARADONA

 Argentina legend Diego Maradona was said to have had £42million worth of unpaid taxes in Italy

Argentina legend Diego Maradona was said to have had £42million worth of unpaid taxes in Italy Credit: Reuters

He was named Fifa’s Player of the Century and then went bust.

The Italian Tax Authority demanded he pays back £42m worth of unpaid taxes from his time playing for Napoli in the 1980s.

CELESTINE BABAYARO

 Former Chelsea man Celestine Babayaro was declared bankrupt in 2011

Former Chelsea man Celestine Babayaro was declared bankrupt in 2011 Credit: PA:Press Association

Babayaro was the popular left-back at Chelsea and Newcastle.

Marauding up and down the left wing at Stamford Bridge and St James’ Park in the 2000s, the Nigerian picked up a healthy pay packet.

ERIC DJEMBA-DJEMBA
 Former Man Utd midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba blew his fortune before retiring

Former Man Utd midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba blew his fortune before retiring Credit: Getty Images – Getty

Having played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs at Manchester United, Djemba-Djemba was declared bankrupt four years after moving to Aston Villa.

The Cameroonian midfielder spent time at St Mirren and in the Indian Super League to recover funds, before later playing in front of just 88 fans in the Swiss fifth tier before retiring.

KEITH GILLESPIE

 Former Man Utd man Keith Gillespie admitted he blew more than £7.2m on gambling

Former Man Utd man Keith Gillespie admitted he blew more than £7.2m on gambling Credit: Pacemaker Press

An addiction to gambling saw Man United product Keith Gillespie blow more than £7.2m.

In an interview with the Guardianhe said: “I lost an awful lot of money through gambling over the years, but I also lost money on property and got involved in a film scheme like a lot of footballers did.”

BRAD FRIEDEL

 A football academy in the US saw Brad Friedel face repossession of his house as £5m of debts mounted up

A football academy in the US saw Brad Friedel face repossession of his house as £5m of debts mounted up Credit: PA: Press Association

Ambitious plans to build a football academy in the United States blew up in the American’s face.

Former Tottenham and Aston Villa goalkeeper Friedel reportedly owed £5m and repossession proceedings began on his £260,000 house.

This was despite the former head coach of MLS team New England Revolution, who he left in 2019, earning £50,000-a-week at Villa Park.

 

PAUL GASCOIGNE

 Troubled England icon Paul Gascoigne came close to bankruptcy

Troubled England icon Paul Gascoigne came close to bankruptcy Credit: Reuters

Gazza managed to avoid bankruptcy in 2016 despite facing a £42,000 bill of unpaid taxes to HMRC.

But the England hero went through a troubled patch which saw him reportedly in debts of up to £200,000.

Gascoigne has struggled with depression and substance abuse.

PAUL MERSON

 Paul Merson's addiction to gambling saw him blow a £7m fortune

Paul Merson’s addiction to gambling saw him blow a £7m fortune Credit: Hulton Archive – Getty

Gambling, booze, and drugs saw the Arsenal legend blow a staggering £7m fortune.

Merson went broke after cashing in on his £800,000 pension to allow him to go on a betting frenzy.

 

LEE HENDRIE

 Lee Hendrie's gambling addiction saw him go bust

Lee Hendrie’s gambling addiction saw him go bustCredit: PA: Press Association

Depression and a gambling addiction saw one-cap England player Hendrie go broke.

Hendrie later revealed he tried to take his own life ‘five or six times’ after going bankrupt and now works as an ambassador for mental health organisation Young Minds.

He has also established himself as a popular pundit and commentator on Sky Sports in recent years.

 

JOHN ARNE RIISE

 John Arne Riise was listed as bankrupt despite earning £50,000-a-week at Liverpool

John Arne Riise was listed as bankrupt despite earning £50,000-a-week at Liverpool Credit: Getty – Contributor

Two years after winning the Champions League with Liverpool, the defender was listed as bankrupt.

Norwegian left-back Riise was just 26 at the time and was believed to be earning £50,000-a-week at Anfield.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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