Etherington had huge debts at the Hammers

WE KNEW that his gambling debts were substantial and we knew that it was a wise move for Matty Etherington to leave London for pastures new, but only now has it been revealed the full extent of the former Hammer s problem. Etherington, now playing

WE KNEW that his gambling debts were substantial and we knew that it was a wise move for Matty Etherington to leave London for pastures new, but only now has it been revealed the full extent of the former Hammer's problem.

Etherington (above), now playing for Stoke City, revealed that a card-school culture as well as betting on horses and greyhounds left him a staggering �1.5million in debt.

The winger said: "When I moved to Stoke, I managed to pay off some debt, but there was still some outstanding - about �800,000.

"But I lost more than that in all. About �1.5million definitely," said the former Hammer of the Year, in a matter-of-fact way that only a gambling addict can.


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Etherington also confirmed that his performances for West Ham were affected by his debts.

"There were card schools at West Ham and it did get a little bit out of hand. People were taking three, four, five grand on the bus with them and when that was gone, you were borrowing more.

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"You could be going out on to a pitch knowing that your win bonus or appearance money that day is more or less down the drain because you have lost it already."

Then manager Alan Pardew finally stopped the card playing at the club, and it seems an intervention by his family has now persuaded Etherington to attend meetings of Gamblers Anonymous.

Certainly his form at Stoke has been outstanding this season, that is until he suffered a knee injury that could prevent him returning to Upton Park for the clash against the Potters on March 27.

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