I’m an ex-England star and used to bet online, smash my laptop then buy a new one the next day – tons of players gamble
GABBY AGBONLAHOR admitted that he and many other players have bet on football as the sport’s crisis is laid bare.
The former Aston Villa striker, 36, says that betting is a deep rooted issue in football after Ivan Toney was banned for eight months.
A former England international admitted he bet during his playing daysGetty
Agbonlahor also believes it is likely that a lot of footballers are using their friends to place bets within the game.
Since 2014 any form of betting on football has been banned worldwide by the FA for players, managers, coaches, club staff, directors and licensed agents involved in all levels of the English game.
This includes the Premier League, EFL, National League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship.
Before then, when Agbonlahor bet, players were only banned from betting on the matches that their own team was involved in.
Agbonlahor told SunSport: “Players used to bet on football, I used to bet on games – never any that involved my team. Sometimes it wouldn’t even be my league.
“It could be the Spanish or Italian league. Say you’d bet on Juventus and Real Madrid in a double.
“It was a boredom thing. You finish training at 12pm, kids are at school. Everyone normally works nine to five or long hours. It’s something to keep you entertained.
“You’re looking at the scores throughout the day across the app.
“For players who really have that urge to gamble now they will just use their friends. There’s ways around it. [Toney’s ban] Is not really going to stop it. This life is about not getting caught.”
Brentford striker Toney accepted breaking 232 FA betting rules and has also been charged £50,000.
His suspension starts immediately, but can return to training four months before it ends on 17 September.
He will not be allowed to play again until 17 January, 2024.
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Aston Villa hero Gabriel Agbonlahor used to smash his laptop after losing a betGetty
Agbonlahor added: “It’s not so black and white. What Ivan Toney might have been doing is betting on leagues he’s not in.
“I’d be interested to know if a lot of it happened when he was at Peterborough before he blew up to this star at Brentford.
“When you’re in the lower leagues you don’t think anyone is going to be bothered about what you’re doing.
“I don’t think the punishment is going to change things. If I was a footballer today and I had the urge to gamble I’d get my friend to do it for me. It’s easily done.”
Agbonlahor revealed his gambling addiction once grew so bad that he was smashing expensive Apple laptops on a daily basis out of frustration after losing online poker.
The only thing that saved him from spiralling down into a crisis was the birth of his first son Gabriel Junior.
Agbonlahor bought a new laptop only the next day back when he gambledGetty
The striker, who joined Villa at age 19, added: “I would come home around age 21 and I’d go on my laptop and play poker in bed, chilling.
“I’d blow £10,000-20,000 and then I’d smash my Apple laptop and I was that addicted I’d go and buy a new one the next day.
“A laptop isn’t going to stop you if you have an addiction.
“I was definitely addicted, but what changed for me was having a child. I had my son when I was 22 and I thought to myself, what am I doing?
“I’m wasting all the money on poker and that can be for my kid and their future. It was a slap in the face to just stop, the jokes over, you don’t need to gamble.”
Former Villa boss Martin O’Neill would often hear through the grapevine that Agbonlahor would be tucked away in a dingy Birmingham Casino after training.
The striker continued: “I remember O’Neill saying to me, ‘Well, we know where to catch you on a Tuesday afternoon – you’ve been in the casino’. In Birmingham people talk.
“The gaffer used to always find out but it was just down to boredom. I’ve never gambled because I wanted to win. I was getting paid good money. So it makes sense.
“I’m sure there’s more help for players now who are suffering with a gambling addiction.”