By Tim Parsons-
Former England footballer struggled with a terrible gambling habit a d alcoholism during the height of his football career, the former star told Good Morning Britain today.
Merson hated himself and urged God to help free him from his addiction so he could support his family.
He told GMB of the battle he had with addiction, and how it was affecting his family.
The former gambling addict said he wrote a note to God during le ksown which read: “I need to stop gambling. I love my wife and kids and I’m so happy with them. When I was in Orlando with my wife and two little children it was the happiest I have been in years cos I wasn’t gambling, I hate myself when I gamble! I hate it.
“Please help me God. I need to pay everyone back and get my wife and kids a house. God help me.”
Breaking down in tears as he told the story, Pearson said: “It is sad. In lockdown it was scary, you’re watching it and my brain was telling me I’ve saved enough money to get a deposit for a house, to get us out of rented accommodation, and watching the news… as an addict I have to keep on watching stuff, and the news was blowing my mind.
“Addiction talks to ya, and it’s like ‘we’re not getting out of this. we’ll be in lockdown forever, this is it. We need a house and the only way we’re going to do that is chasing the money’. I lost everything.”
The former star added that drinking, drug, and gambling addiction spiralled out of control during the heights of his football career in the 90’s.
“I started going to an all-night pub in Smithfield Market. Drinking on my own and snorting in the toilets. I’d hail a black cab at 8am to take me up to training and even have a couple of big hits sitting in the back,” he told the Mail.
“I had bookies chasing me, dealers chasing me. I settled one cocaine debt by handing over my Arsenal blazer and reporting it stolen. Paranoia took over. I was convinced someone was hunting me down.”
He said his then-wife Lorraine intervened and called Arsenal manager George Graham, and the club and the Professional Footballers’ Association arranged for him to go to rehabilitation.
Ater staying clean for three years, Merson says he relapsed into boozing and gambling after transferring to Middlesborough, where he shared a house with “fellow alcoholic” Paul Gascoigne.
He would binge tens of thousands of pounds on single bets, and would try to claw the money back with even bigger ones when he lost.
The addiction made him “secretive, defensive and irritable beyond belief” he says, which was ultimately the final straw in both his first and second marriages.
“I could never live in the moment and enjoy the team’s achievements. I only thought about what it all meant for drinking and gambling.”
Merson says he hasn’t touched cocaine for 27 years, and hasn’t had a drop of alcohol for two years as he continues to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.