Wayne Rooney has opened up about an early-career gambling problem, saying boredom and the ease of placing bets contributed to the issue.
Rooney, who made his debut for Derby County this week, has joined the Rams as a player-coach after spending two seasons with D.C. United in Major League Soccer.
The 34-year-old said gambling was an issue while he was playing for Manchester United and the England national team, though he has now quit altogether.
“For an away game with Manchester United you stay in a hotel, and with England you’re in a hotel for seven to 10 days,” Rooney said in a video for 32Red’s Stay In Control gambling awareness campaign.
“You get bored and do things to fill the time. At that time gambling was one of them.
“It was easy to place bets by phone. It didn’t feel like real money. It wasn’t like I had to go into a bookies and put bets where there are limits.
“Before you know it you’ve lost a good bit and you don’t realize the amount you’re putting on at the time. I won at the start and thought it was easy money. It sucks you in a bit more and I ended up losing, ended up down.
“I was chasing my bets trying to win my money back. You’re there to play for your country or club and when you’re losing money the way I was, then it will affect you.
“Thankfully I managed to pay up what I lost and I didn’t gamble again. I’ve learned from my mistakes. If you carry on gambling, you lose more. That’s when you can get sucked into a bad situation.”
Rooney has said that he is now keen to share his experience with his younger Derby teammates.
“I think it’s important that they understand the responsibility of the money they’re earning because they are earning a lot of money,” he said.
“There is a responsibility for us as older players who’ve been through that experience to help them and guide them on that, whether it’s gambling, whether it’s money, how to look after their money.
“I think it’s important that they take that information in from whoever is willing to give them to help them.”
After playing 90 minutes in his Derby debut against Barnsley, the Rams will face Crystal Palace on Sunday in the FA Cup third round.