Footballers make a fortune from the football business owing to the massive salaries they get paid, endorsement deals from big brands et al.
However, the trend of players becoming broke despite making humongous money in their playing days is a sorry one that is rampant in the sport.
Albeit what these players do with that money varies greatly, we’re not here to judge which player is spending his money the right or the wrong way; bearing in mind that life could happen in the funniest way ever envisaged.
What we want to do instead, is to take a look at a number of high-profile footballers who for different reasons, badly mishandled their fortunes, thus going from riches to rags.
10 Football Stars Who Blew Their Fortune And Ended Up Broke
“I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.” One of Best’s famous quotes after the former Ballon D’or winner went broke.
Following an inspiring start to life at Manchester United, Best would begin to decline after taking on a wayward lifestyle.
He developed problems with gambling, womanizing and alcoholism, and would never reach the heights he reached with United in his early years with the club.
Best was diagnosed with severe liver damage in March 2000. and his liver was said to be functioning at only 20%.
He eventually had surgery which was successful, but to the surprise of many, George Best began drinking again, an event that brought about his death in November 2005.
Before his death, Best’s final message, via News of the World, was “Don’t die like me” —a warning to footballers and non-footballers alike to avoid the path of destruction.
Friedel’s pathway to ‘sapa’ was his noble and ambitious plan to launch a non-profit soccer academy in Lorain, Ohio, at a cost of approximately $10 million, providing coaching on a full-tuition scholarship basis to youths aged 12 and older – which wasn’t a bad idea at that time.
In 2007, Friedel launched this football academy but had difficulty retaining and obtaining corporate sponsorship, which led to a financial crisis before the eventual closure of the academy in 2011.
In January of the year, he reportedly owed £5m and repossession proceedings began on his £260,000 house. Friedel filed for bankruptcy protection in the United Kingdom as a result of debts arising from the academy.
He became one of the most expensive English football players, but his success soon tanked following a devastating eye injury.
Upon his retirement in 2007, he got involved in a multi-million-pound deal which turned out to be a fraud.
He went bankrupt within the next seven years.
Eric Djemba Djemba
Here’s another former Manchester United player who declared bankruptcy after being unable to manage his crippling debt despite having a net worth of $6 million.
Djemba Djemba has a love for the good things in life and spent most of his money on flashy cars and other luxuries.
Having played alongside Ryan Giggs and Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford, mediocre performances would ensure a massive nosedive in the Cameroonian’s career.
Djemba Djemba declared himself bankrupt in 2007, then 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 frustratingly retiring in 2016.
Another former Ballon D’or winner who during his hay days was one of the most skilful players of his generation.
Of course, the Brazilian was extremely successful as a footballer with two FIFA Best Player of The Year and two Ballon D’or awards to show for his hard work.
Ronaldinho was popular for living an extravagant lifestyle which his being broke was attributed to. In July 2019, 57 properties belonging to Ronaldinho along with his Brazilian and Spanish passports were confiscated because of unpaid taxes and fines.
In mid-2020, the former Barcelona and AC Milan star was questioned by police in Paraguay after he was alleged to have used a fake passport to enter the country while coming for a charity event and book promotion, with Ronaldinho and his brother both being held in custody in the country.
James has a remarkable record of being the fifth player on the all-time Premier League appearances with 572 matches played in the English topflight league, but that is a direct opposite to his financial status.
The former Three Lions goalkeeper reportedly earned about £20 million from his career. With that amount of money, he was supposed to live happily ever after.
A costly divorce with his wife in 2005 was the Genesis of James’ brokenness as he accumulated plenty of debts, leading the court to order him to sell his sports memorabilia, DJ equipment and his exotic Vauxhall Astra van when he couldn’t pay his creditors.
Keth blew up a staggering £7.2m due to his addiction to gambling having helped Newcastle qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
He was declared broke in 2010 and at the young age of 35, lost his properties too.
He revealed in an interview with The Guardian, that he “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.”
Depression, substance addiction and alcohol were the undoing of the English football legend.
Gascoigne’s financial problems largely erupted from the aforementioned bad habits. He reportedly lost thousands of pounds while gambling in blackjack, and simultaneously smoked 100 cigarettes while also gulping glass after glass of Cristal Champagne.
Things got worse for Gascoine who in 2018, admitted to spending £2,000 a day on cocaine.
The list of Gascoigne’s shenanigans is endless, but he was able to avoid bankruptcy in 2016 despite facing a £42,000 bill of unpaid taxes to HMRC. Really, his bad habits were needless.
John Arne Riise
Riise’s bankruptcy story is entirely different from other players as he was already bankrupt while playing for Liverpool and reported to be earning around £50,000 per week.
An unpaid debt of £100,000 and a case involving a £3 million fraud in Norway are the reasons behind his bankruptcy then.
He was still playing when he was bankrupt, so he had a steady stream of income to get out of trouble. He played for Liverpool for seven years before moving to AS Roma.
He also enjoyed considerable success in his career as he won the Champions League with Liverpool, among other honours and scored 16 goals for Norway before his retirement from international duty in 2013.
A member of the Nigerian squad that won the gold medal in the 1996 Olympic games in Atalanta, Babayaro went on to play for a number of big clubs in his career.
Despite being on a $ 45,000-a-week paycheck, and after terrorizing other players in the field, his life started becoming haunted by high court when he declared bankruptcy after raking in crushing debt.
The Nigerian legend was officially declared bankrupt in 2011 after he was charged to court by his creditors who wanted their money back.
A neighbour once commented on how things seem to have changed for the worse for Babayaro. According to the neighbour, Babayaro can no longer maintain his beautiful house. It’s truly saddening to see things change for worse for Babayaro.
This article was updated 1 month ago