Premier League

Footballers who blew their fortune and ended up broke like Ronaldinho, Paul Merson and Royston Drenthe

FROM rags to riches and back again – unfortunately, it’s an all too common trend in football.

Here, SunSport takes a look back at several high-profile stars who blew their millions on booze, bets and.. football academies.

Royston Drenthe was declared bankrupt by a Dutch court


The former Everton star and Holland international was declared bankrupt last year.

The 34-year-old is currently plying his trade with Spanish club Racing Murcia, but has had some problems off the pitch.
As reported by Dutch news-site AD, a court in Breda handed down the bankruptcy order.

But Drenthe is confident the matter will be resolved, telling Voetbalzone that he ‘didn’t know exactly what is going on’.

Drenthe has previously revealed that he had lost £3.2MILLION earned from what looked like a promising football career.


Troubled England icon Paul Gascoigne came close to bankruptcy

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’s addiction to gambling saw him blow a £7m fortune

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

The former midfielder has recovered and works as a regular pundit for Sky Sports, although he considered quitting last summer, but he once considered breaking his fingers to prevent him from phoning the bookies.

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


Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan is understood to be broke

Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan was understood to be broke

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.

The 36year-old ex-Prem star is now turning out for Legon Cities back in his homeland.


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

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.

To compound his misery, Ronaldinho spent time in a Paraguayan prison last year for allegedly attempting to enter the country with forged documents.


Former England keeper David James blew a £20m fortune

Despite earning an estimated £20m from his career, the former England No1 declared himself bankrupt in 2014.

As well as a lucrative career at Premier League clubs like Liverpool and Man City, James had modelled for Armani and owned multiple properties.

But a costly divorce in 2005 saw debts start racking up and courts instructed James to sell off his sports memorabilia, DJ equipment and a Vauxhall Astra van.


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

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.


Lee Hendrie’s gambling addiction saw him go bust

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

Despite earning in excess of £30,000-a-week while at Aston Villa, the former midfielder was declared bankrupt in January 2012 as he faced huge debts and repossessions.

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.


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

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

Argentina icon Maradona, who tragically passed away in November 2020, twice broke the world record for transfers but in 2009 had to file for bankruptcy.

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


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

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.

But an unpaid debt of around £100,000 was reportedly linked to an alleged £3m fraud investigation in Norway and Riise was declared bankrupt.


Djemba Djemba

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

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.


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

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

After a career that saw him take Newcastle to the Champions League and play 80 times for Northern Ireland, the midfielder was declared broke in 2010 at the age of 35.

In an interview with the Guardian, he 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.”


Former Chelsea man Celestine Babayaro was declared bankrupt in 2011

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.

But by January 2011 the defender was declared bankrupt on the public record of the London Gazette.

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