Top 5 Footballers that Struggled with Drugs and Alcohol

Number 1: Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne

Another soccer player who has had his issues with alcohol is Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne, whose weeping incident after being yellow carded in the semi-finals against Germany of the 1990 FIFA World Cup made him famous and spawned “Gazzamania”. Paul has retired as a soccer player and manager but continues to have mental health and substance use issues.

According to his biography, he has been diagnosed and/or treated for bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, alcohol use disorder, and at least one suicide attempt by overdosing with a combination of alcohol and drugs. He has had issues with gambling, cocaine, and alcohol use. Paul’s career as a soccer manager ended due to his substance use issues when he was fired by Kettering Town in 2005. His last rehab stay, reported to be his eighth try, was in January of 2017, as he attempted to get through 2017 substance free according to a spokesperson,

‘Paul wants to let everyone know that he has gone into rehab. He is making a serious effort to get free of his demons and trying to become alcohol free for 2017. I’m not religious at all but if any of you are, say a prayer for him.’

 Back in the mid 2000s, it was reported that Paul was drinking two liters of gin, 15 cans of Stella Artois, 30 Valiums, and injecting cocaine daily. Paul was just seen in November of 2017 in London’s West End looking healthy and happy so we hope he is making the changes he wished for in his life for 2017.

Number 2: Diego Armando Maradona

Diego Maradona is an original to be sure. His antics on and off the field have gained attention even to the present. The Argentinean attacking midfielder and second striker played in 4 World Cups including the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where he led an Argentinean team to victory over the German team with two goals in the quarter finals with England that continue to be discussed: the ‘Hand of God” and the goal named the Goal of the Century by FIFA voters in 2002. “El Pibe de Oro” or “the Golden Boy” truly made good on his nickname winning the Golden Ball as the best player.

He also has had his issues with substance use. He was banned from the World Cup in 1984 for using banned performance-enhancing substances. Maradona explained the ephedrine variants were from a medicine for allergy symptoms but FIFA officials listed five substances: ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, pseudo-ephedrine, non-pseudo-ephedrine and methylephedrine found in Maradona’s urine. No one known medication contains all five ephedrine variants so FIFA officials suggested he had to have ingested an ephedrine “cocktail” to show up positive for all five banned substances. Ephedrine is a performance-enhancing substance that acts as a stimulant and is banned from athletic competition.

Maradona has also struggled with alcohol and, most notably, cocaine use. As he described it,

“Do you know what kind of player I would’ve been if I had not used cocaine? What a player we’ve lost! I have a sour taste in my mouth because I could have been a lot bigger! I assure you of that! I knew who I was going to be, what I didn’t know was that I was going to take cocaine.”

Currently he is asking authorities to jail one of his daughters, Gianinna, for acting, as he alleges,  in a conspiracy with his other daughter, Dalma, and his ex-wife, Claudia to steal £3.4 million or $4.5 million dollars from a bank account in Uruguay. He has been known to act outrageously including throwing stones at the cars of paparazzi and using an air rifle against photographers when he wanted to be left alone. We hope Maradona has a happy holiday season, with or without his family.

Number 3: Adriano Leite Ribeiro

Adriano Leite Ribeiro, known simply as “Adriano” or “The Emperor”, is a Brazilian who grew up in a favela in Rio and has returned there but the story is far from over if Adriano has anything to say about it. His hope is to return to professional soccer.

While it seems a bit farfetched to consider now, it is no more farfetched than where he has come from. Rio has some of the worst slums in the world and Adriano currently lives in a slum where he must continually pay off a gang called “Red Command” just to survive unmolested. For a price, the gang ensures his safety and that of his family. Yet Adriano is still looking forward to returning to professional play in 2018 after he was released from Miami United in 2016.

Only I know how much I suffered. The death of my father left a huge hole. I felt alone and I isolated myself when he died. I was sad and depressed in Italy, and that was when I started to drink. I only felt happy drinking, I drank everything in front of me: wine, whisky, vodka, beer… I didn’t know how to hide it. I used to go to training drunk in the morning.”

Flamengo president Eduardo Bandeira de Mello offered Adriano a spot this summer but Adriano refused. He still sees the World Cup ahead and he knows he can still play.

Number 4: Cícero João de Cézare

NUMBER 5 – Cícero João de Cézare

Brazilian/Italian and former Real Madrid Fullback Cícero João de Cézare, nicknamed “Cicinho”, is a soccer player who just doesn’t say no. He discussed his issues with alcohol in a frank interview with ESPN saying,

I’m a guy who can’t sit and have one or two glasses. I have to drink until I fall over. They said to me: ‘If you keep going with this life, you will die’. Then I had an encounter with Jesus after 18 caipirinhas and 14 beers. I smoked two packets of cigarettes a day, how was I going to run around for 90 minutes?

Caipirinhas are the national drink of Brazil and are composed of lime muddled with sugar and cachaça, a hard liquor derived from sugarcane. Cicinho also stated his time in Rome was spent drinking and getting tattooed before he decided to make a change. He now regrets his tattoos and they serve as daily reminders that he needed to deal with depression in different ways.

I regret everything and I did not seek advice from anyone. These things don’t cure depression, you just run the risk of becoming more depressed. I feel uncomfortable with my tattoos, I only got them while under the influence of alcohol.”

I drank because I hated the pain and needed it to get the tattoos. I thought the tattoos were going to bring me peace and it’s not like that. I imagined myself being 60 years old, eating cake and covered in tattoos.”

All of these men made a choice regarding substance use: to continue, to moderate, or to abstain. Only time will tell how successful they are in redirecting their careers and lives in the way they wish. With 2018 on the horizon, may they all have success and happiness in the coming year in whatever decisions and directions they choose to make.

NUMBER 5:  Yaya Touré

Gnégnéri “Yaya” Touré, central midfielder for Premier League Club Manchester City, was pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving in East London at 11:15PM on November 28, 2016. He had been driving approximately 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit at the time and was found to have 75 micrograms of alcohol by breathalyzer or just over double the legal limit of 35 micrograms.

This finding was especially curious, as Yaya is Muslim. The Ivory Coast national has refused to drink alcohol publicly in the past. When he appeared before the Barkingside Magistrates Court on December 14, 2016, Yaya testified that he was unaware he had consumed alcohol at all. He had drunk from a bottle and thought it was diet Coke but the bottle also contained brandy. Although he stated it tasted “funny”, he drank it and didn’t know he was drunk or impaired when he went to drive. He nevertheless pled guilty as he did fail a breathalyzer test and did have alcohol in his system, whether he intentionally consumed it or not.

The judge was prepared to fine Yaya £81,000 ($108,000.00+). While Yaya makes £200,000 weekly ($267,000.00+), Yaya argued his net weekly income was closer to £54,000 ($72,000) as some of the income was due to performance-based bonuses that were variable. Between this argument and the guilty plea, the judge relented and set a fine of £54,000 plus £85 for court costs and £170 for victims surcharge fee. Yaya was also ordered to undergo a program for drinking and driving and an 18-month ban on driving. If he completed the drinking and driving program, he could have his driving ban reduced by 18 weeks. Hopefully,Yaya will be able to get back to driving soon without any further spiked diet Cokes in his way.

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