Paul Merson revealed he lost millions of pounds due to his gambling problems as he opened up on the full extent of his addiciton.
The former Arsenal and England star has told how he used to bet on Lithuanian Under-20s basketball games during the height of his troubles.
Merson made more than 400 appearances for the Gunners and also turned out for Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Portsmouth.
However, his career was blighted by off-field troubles and he opened up on his battle with drink, drugs and gambling in the new ITV documentary Harry’s Heroes – The Full English.
Merson told hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain : “I was getting up in the morning and betting on, off the top of my head, Lithuania under 20 basketball matches, how are you pricing them up? Who’s that for?
“The money [lost] is not the problem, it’s the sanity, more than anything. You go insane. The insanity of constantly keeping on doing it.
“After the bet goes on, you are like, ‘what did I do that for?’ It’s a weird feeling. You search and search to get the bet on, to get all excited, and as soon as you have done it you’re like, ‘I can’t believe what I’ve done’. Then the self-worth comes in and you hate yourself.”
Merson placed his first bet aged 16 when he blew his entire wage packet in the bookies and he has been hooked ever since.
However, he hopes he has turned the corner has is getting on top of his addiction.
He added: “I need to keep going to meetings. I have to go to meetings. It’s the only way that can help really. I’m in a much better place today, 100 times better than where I was six months ago.
“Addiction is a strong thing, it can soon tell your head, ‘You know what, I’m alright now, because I’m alright now maybe I can have a drink, maybe I can just have that one little bet?’
“But that’s not the case. It was a massive wake up call.”