Wayne Rooney has detailed how his struggles with gambling affected the peak early years of his career with Manchester United and England.
The 34-year-old — who racked up a £700,000 ($1.4 million) debt by the age of 20 — described how he was "sucked in" by early betting successes but has since quit gambling altogether, having "learned from my mistakes".
He agreed to speak out about his personal turmoil after facing criticism over Derby County's decision to give him the No32 shirt in association with a betting sponsor.
Rooney, who set up a goal on his Derby debut against Barnsley on Friday, blamed a mix of boredom and unlimited telephone gambling on his habit.
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"When you're losing money, it will affect you," he said of the impact on his game.
Speaking on a video for 32Red's Stay in Control gambling awareness campaign, Rooney said he now has a responsibility as an older player to help younger teammates handle the pressures of making big money.
"I was a young lad who'd just come into a lot of money," said the former England captain, who once earned £300,0000 ($600,000) a week at United.
"For an away game with Manchester United, you stay in a hotel — and with England, you're in a hotel for seven to 10 days. You get bored and do things to fill the time. At that time, gambling was one of them. It was easy to place bets by phone. It didn't feel like real money.
"Before you know it, you've lost a good bit and you don't realise the amount you're putting on at the time. I won at the start and thought it was easy money. It sucks you in a bit more and I ended up losing."
Rooney, who had previously cited his issues with gambling in his autobiography, explains in the video how he previously resorted to "chasing my bets trying to win my money back".
"You're there to play for your country or club, and when you're losing money, it will affect you. Thankfully, I managed to pay up what I lost and I didn't gamble again. I learned from my mistakes."