Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson claims that he blew his family's £160,000 house deposit on table tennis bets during the covid pandemic in 2020.
The Soccer Saturday pundit has been vocal in the past about his alcohol and gambling struggles, but the star opened up further on BBC documentary Paul Merson: Football, Gambling & Me.
The 54-year-old placed his first bet at the age of 16 and later developed drug issues during and after his football career.
Merson was furloughed from Sky Sports during the first lockdown.
He told The Sun: "I was on furlough from Sky Sports and at first I enjoyed the lockdown.
"I was in the garden with my youngest kids and the sun was out. But then I started getting addicted to bulletins when Boris Johnson and the bloke with the red tie came out.
"My anxiety kicked in and I thought, 'They're not going to have Soccer Saturday any more' was thinking, 'I'm not going to be able to earn anything'.
"My older kids' mums have houses and I want to give my younger kids a future.
"Kate [Merson's wife] and I had £160,000 saved up and I blew it in a few bets. It was all online, but it wasn't a bookmaker, it was a private bookie.
"My last bet was eight grand on a table tennis player. I didn't have a particular knowledge of table tennis but everything was locked down at that point, so there wasn't much to bet on.
"I remember sitting in my front room and having suicidal thoughts and my kids were playing and I was thinking, "Oh my God, I've just done everything in'."
The synopsis for Paul Merson: Football, Gambling & Me reads: "Over the past 35 years, former Arsenal and England footballer Paul Merson has gambled away a fortune.
"In this programme, he sets out to understand why his life has been so badly blighted by gambling and explores the relationship between football and gambling at a time when it has never been more urgent to question the industry’s place in the world of sport.
"Now on the path to recovery, he wants to understand what caused his addiction. Could it be the way his brain is wired, his environment or both?
"Paul sets out to meet old teammates, scientists and psychologists to see if he can get close to finding the answer."
The documentary is available to watch on iPlayer now.Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports/Gavin Rodgers/Alamy Stock Photo