Paul Merson has opened up on the severity of his gambling addiction, warning that he is now in the ‘last-chance saloon’.
The former England and Arsenal star has publicly spoken about his past battles with alcoholism, gambling and drugs over the years.
The football pundit has now shed even more light on his gambling fight in a hard-hitting documentary on his own problem alongside the wider gambling issue in the UK.
The 53-year-old revealed that he has not placed a bet in nine months but broke down into tears when talking about what might happen if he did.
‘I could easily go back to it, easy, and that’s sad because everything goes out of the window,’ he said in the BBC’s Paul Merson: Football, Gambling & Me documentary, which aired on Monday night.
‘I loved it, I loved the actual gambling. I didn’t like the outcome but I loved the feeling.
Paul Merson has opened up on the severity of his gambling addiction, warning that he is now in the ‘last-chance saloon’ and broke down in tears in a hard-hitting BBC documentary
‘I still think about it and that’s the scary thing. For everything I’ve got it’s still in my head and that’s what I can’t work out. It frightens me to death.
‘I think next time will be dangerous. I can’t live my life like this. I don’t think I’ve got another recovery in me. I really don’t.
‘This is it, this is last-chance saloon, that’s the honest truth. I really cannot go back again.’
Merson, pictured with wife Kate, who now has to control the amount of money he has
Former England and Arsenal forward Merson has opened up on his addictions over the years
Merson revealed that he is given an allowance by his wife Kate after he gambled away their house deposit during lockdown.
The ex-midfielder made 327 league appearances for the Gunners between 1985 and 1997, before making the switch north to Middlesbrough.
He has opened up the reasons why he left high-flying Arsenal for a team that had just dropped out of the Premier League.
‘When I left Arsenal they were going for the Champions League places, Middlesbrough had just been relegated but I signed because of the money,’ he said.
‘I’m not going to lie I signed because of my addictions and they were on tour in Italy. As I got off at the airport no one was there, they forgot, I had to get a cab into the Alps. I’m like “f***”.
Merson at a 1995 press conference at London’s Park Court Hotel where he confessed to his addictions. On the right is FA spokesman David Davies
‘If that was Arsenal you’re not even picking your luggage up – that was an eye opener at the highest level.
‘That was like “Oh my God, what have I done?”
‘I got to the hotel and I shared a room with Clayton Blackmore, and I was unpacking my stuff and he was laying on the bed and he went: “What the f*** have you signed for us for?”
‘I couldn’t get my head round signing another contract for Arsenal, which I got offered but it was like £350,000 a year less and being a compulsive gambler I couldn’t get my head round how much money I was going to lose.’
Last month, Merson broke down in tears on Good Morning Britain after recalling his harrowing struggles with a gambling addiction.
He became visibly emotional in the studio when presenter Susanna Reid read out an extract from his memoir, Hooked.
In the harrowing passage, Merson pleads for help with his problem, even saying ‘God help me’ as he looked to overcome his demons.
During the first lockdown, he penned a note, in which he said he ‘hated’ himself when he gambled, and pledged to buy a house for his wife and children.
‘I need to stop gambling,’ the letter read. ‘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 (sic) 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.’
Merson also revealed his addiction to gambling has cost him over £7million.
Paul Merson: Football, Gambling and Me is available to watch on BBC iPlayer