Stoke winger Matthew Etherington has admitted he lost £1.5million before giving up gambling and claims card games between team-mates were a problem during his time at West Ham.
Etherington, 28, revealed he was asked by family members to seek help for his addiction last year, and he recently disclosed he had been attending meetings of Gambling Anonymous in Birmingham. He joined Stoke from West Ham in January 2009, and confirmed he had heavy debts when he moved to the Britannia Stadium.
"I managed to pay off some debt but there was still some outstanding, about £800,000," Etherington told the Mail on Sunday.
"But I lost more than that in all. About £1.5million. Definitely."
He explained how a card-playing culture at West Ham affected his emotions heading into matches, and claims the club's then manager, Alan Pardew, put a halt to the games.
Etherington said: "There were card schools at West Ham and it did get a little bit out of hand. People were taking three, four, five grand on the bus with them. When that was gone, you were borrowing more.
"You could win 20 grand or lose 20 grand on a single journey, which is ludicrous. Then some would play in their rooms. It wouldn't just stop on the bus.
"It can't be good for team morale. Any normal human being, if you are losing a lot of money, you are not going to be happy about it and you are going to resent the person taking it off you.
"You could be going out onto a pitch knowing that your win bonus or appearance money that day is more or less down the drain because you have lost it already. Alan Pardew stopped it, which he was right to do."
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