To become one of the top football players, one must have talent and incredible dedication. They must comply with strict rules on the training ground and during official matches. The life of a football player is undoubtedly highly stressful, even if they earn far more than the average citizen. Unsurprisingly, they need to blow off steam, unwind, relax, and get their adrenaline spiked somehow. Since their paychecks are usually in the tens of thousands per month, it becomes clear that they will gravitate towards gambling. Some football players will stick to brick-and-mortar casinos, while others prefer gambling on the go at top online casinos like Jackpotcity Chile.
For the average person, gambling can be seen as a fun pastime and not as means to accumulate worth. However, we are nowhere near as competitive as the highly successful football players, which gives them a clear edge in gambling. Recent developments within the online casino industry allow football players to remain anonymous while gambling, for example, on casino ecoPayz. Since they are always in the spotlight, it’s no wonder they place the utmost importance on privacy. However, many football players are open about their gambling passion, and we have compiled a list of the most well-known.
It would be hard for any football enthusiast to deny Cristiano Ronaldo’s greatness and overwhelming influence over football. However, the 37-year-old Portuguese captain, that has recently made a comeback to Manchester United is not only fantastic when it comes to dribbles. He has also made a name for himself as a highly-skilled gambler. Ronaldo’s skill and undeniable talent have allowed him to secure five Ballon d’Or and four European Golden Shoe trophies. It should be no surprise that no other football player has managed to come even close to his outstanding accolades, given that he scored the most goals at 130. He is the second player that scores 100 goals in International matches and the first European to do so.
He has raised over 30 trophies on a team level, winning all major European and International club competitions multiple times. During his illustrious career, he has played over 1,000 international matches for giant football clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United, Sporting Lisabona, and Juventus Torino. Cristino Ronlando’s marketing draw is unparalleled, and he has partnered with huge brands, including Nike and KFC, to promote their products. He also has a personal brand, CR7, which has seen substantial profits. In 2020, he was the first football player to join the billionaire club. He made his passion for gambling public after inking a multi-million deal with a significant poker brand, leveraging his insane social media following of over 400 million across Facebook and Instagram. Through the partnership, Ronaldo became a poker ambassador, continuously improving his poker game and playing against other celebrities like Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul on televised matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo has lived in European capitals with a long-standing link with gambling that hosts some of the most famous land-based casinos. He has also visited local casinos when traveling with the Portuguese National team or his club teams. Given his immense popularity, he has been swarmed by fans frequently, so he has resorted to visiting casinos in disguise whenever he wants to satisfy his gambling itch by playing poker or spinning the slots. It is public knowledge that Ronaldo came from humble beginnings, and for that reason, he is always careful not to go overboard when gambling. With his fortune of over 1 billion dollars, he does not have to be so cautious with bankroll management. Still, the fact that he remains measured and calculated should be viewed as a lesson he is trying to give the general public.
While Cristiano Ronaldo has consistently advocated for responsible gambling, the same cannot be said about the next entry on our list. Keith Gillespie, who is now 40 years old, has played for most of the major Premier League clubs, including Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Leister City, and Newcastle United, and had 86 stints for the national team of Northern Ireland. The impressive salaries he collected from the famed football clubs would only last him a few days, and during his gambling career, he has reportedly lost over 7 million pounds.
He filed for bankruptcy in 2010 because he could not pay his taxes which totaled £137,000. While he also lost a part of the fortune acquired while active to some poor investments, most were lost on gambling. The winger has reportedly lost over £62,000 in a single weekend by placing wagers on football matches and horse races. He refers to that dark period in his life as Black Friday, and he has been vocal about his ordeal in hopes that he could help other professional athletes. It is reported that he has managed to slow down on gambling with the help of hypnotherapy.
Another football player that opened up about his love for gambling and the problems that stemmed from it is the former Cardiff striker Michael Chopra. During an interview with TalkBanStop, he admitted that gambling was the first thing he would consider as soon as he heard the final whistle. Chopra, now 38 years old, has stated that his gambling tendencies only worsened with every salary increase. He played for Cardiff and Newcastle, and at the end of his 16-year-old career, he moved to India, where he played for Kerala Blasters and Alloa Athletic. However, even the move to India did not make him slow down on gambling. He has reportedly placed bets on any sports event, from American football to horses, to obscure games from lesser-known leagues, without previous knowledge of the teams.
Thankfully, Michael Chopra’s story comes with a happy ending as he has managed to keep his gambling under control with the help of his then-manager, Roy Keane. During his stint at Sunderland in the 2007 season, the two openly discussed Chopra’s struggles, ultimately getting him the desperately needed help.
The next entry on our list is no other than the legendary goalkeeper and the team captain of Juventus Torino and Squadra Azzura. He is among the oldest footballers that have remained active at the top level, given that he recently turned 40. Gianluigi Buffon did not shy away from showing his love for gambling at luxury casinos or through online sports betting.
Unfortunately, his gambling passion has been tainted by controversies as he was part of illegal gambling rings more than once. The two investigations in 2006 and 2012 led to convictions later overturned, and he hasn’t spent a single day in prison. Rumor has it that he won over 2 million dollars through illegal gambling, a small fortune in 2006. He managed to leverage this unfortunate event into a lucrative ambassador position with PokerStars and was the face of multiple poker tournaments hosted by the brand in Italy.
Next up, we have Gerard Pique, the center-back for Barcelona, and the Spanish national team that also happens to have a famous partner, Colombian pop star Shakira. He made his international football debut in 2004 for Manchester United, played for his national team as early as 2009, and has remained one of the best European defenders.
However, football is not the only activity he has been highly successful at, as he managed to collect more than half a million dollars in poker tournaments. His poker activity can be traced back to his days playing for Manchester United, where he honed his poker skills, culminating with playing the €25,000 European Poker Tour High Roller Event hosted in Barcelona. He fell short in the heads-up play but still collected a whopping €352,000. Arturo Vidal, Gerard Pique’s teammate at Barcelona back then, was also part of the final table and managed to finish 5th for €134,000.
In 2017 he finished fifth at an NLHE tournament hosted by Casino Barcelona for another €129,000. Even though Gerard Pique had impressive placements at multiple poker tournaments, he was also on the losing end. When he played at Old Trafford, he admitted to losing more than €30,000 in a single gambling session. Pique’s adrenaline-seeking behavior rang alarm bells and led Barcelona’s management to hire a private detective to keep track of his gambling. The surveillance uncovered that he lost over €3,000 on most of his casino visits.
Barcelona’s concerns that Pique might go bankrupt turned out to be unfounded as they concluded his gambling habits were responsible and his primary focus was improving his football skills. When he wasn’t juggling football, a busy private life, and trips to poker tournaments, he worked on his company, Kerad Games. The video game publishing company consisted of a team of 30 software developers and successfully released three mobile games: Stop & Goal, Golden Manager, and Trivia league. While the company has since shut down, it did help Pique fulfill most of his childhood dreams.
The 30-year-old Brazilian strike that currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain FC also happens to be the cultural ambassador for poker giant PokerStars. He even made an in-person appearance at the 2022 World Series of Poker $10,000 Hold’Em Championship to celebrate his partnership. Neymar secured his spot at the table in June of 2016 when he placed first at a Las Vegas tournament. Unfortunately, he was forced to play for Brazil at the Summer Olympics and had to skip the main event.
It took him six years to finally make an appearance at the WSOP event, where he had to battle 74 entrants in the three-day competition. His stint at the poker table was short-lived as he was eliminated during the first day. However, he was one of the most active gamblers at the table, where he played almost any two cards.
He played a few other live events to represent PokerStars, and his highest placement was at the Brazilian Series of Poker. He played sixth and collected over $21,000. According to his statements, he loves poker and would like to travel and gamble as soon as his busy schedule allows. He frequently posts poker-related content on his Twitter and Instagram and even revealed plans to become a poker pro after he retires from football.
Many other famous footballers enjoy gambling but choose to keep their passion private. The life of a football player is often stressful, and they are often stuck in hotel rooms for days on end. They can easily find enjoyment and adrenaline through online gambling and sports betting. Their thirst for victory and competitive nature are also contributing to their choice. Most footballers manage to keep their gambling habits under control and should be an example to their millions of followers.
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