Keith Gillespie was supposed to be a rising star in Manchester United, with comparisons to George Best at one point becoming one of the more fascinating conversations among United fans. The man had all the tools to be an all-time great in his own right.
But Gillespie never hit the level of Best in his football career and in a recent interview with the Daily Mirror to promote his autobiography – “How Not To Be A Football Millionaire” – the now 38-year old winger opened up about one of the reasons he failed to live up to his potential.
He loved to gamble.
Gillespie isn’t the first football player to come out openly about their gambling exploits, and he says he won’t be the last. But while others have enjoyed gambling on a casual and smart basis – as it should be – Gillespie had trouble keeping his gambling in check.
“You finish training and in the afternoon you go home and, if you’re not married, you’re probably going home to an empty house or a hotel room,” he told the Daily Mirror.
“You’re bored and you’ve got time on your hands, and a lot of money to play with.”
Personal accounts of blowing money on ill-advised bets spewed out of the mouth of the former United player, including one bet where he ended up burning £47,000 on a day’s worth of horse racing. A day later, he ended up dropping another £22,000 in an attempt to win back what he lost the previous day, a classic case of chasing losses.
Gillespie admits that he still bets on occasion, although not as much and as frequent as before because, well, he doesn’t have as much money as he used to. Bad investments throughout the years played the biggest role in him losing a lot of money, but careless gambling was an equally culpable culprit.
Through all of his ordeals and failed ascent atop the ladder of all-time great football players, Gillespie’s only regret came from not being able to control his gambling.
Then again, “it’s the kind of character I am,” he says.