“It is so easy, I could have 50 to 100 bets a day no problem. I was betting on anything. It starts off from pounds, then it’s a hundred, then it’s thousands. I was addicted to betting on everything. I would wake up and the first thing I would think about would be to have a bet rather than play football”. David Bentley speaking frankly about his gambling addiction. Happily, he is not longer subject to this problem. But when a footballer becomes consumed by gambling, it can have a serious impact on their form.
What happens is, when a player gets into the losing gambling habit, it affects their confidence. Maybe not in a way that others would notice, but subtly so. Sequences of losing bets, create a breakdown of trust between the gambler/player and their instinct. A breakdown of trust leading to self-doubt. Trust that is critical for a sports professional.
So, a striker, for example, without that trust, will lose their magic touch in front of goal. A mid-fielder will be caught in possession of the ball, as they lose a fraction of their decision-making ability. A defender may lose focus at a corner and their marker will score. A keeper may hesitate in coming out for a high-ball they would normally take.
Subtle differences in focus, concentration, timing and confidence. All caused by gambling addiction. It takes a manager with a keen eye, to know when their player has become subject to forces they can’t control. A keen eye that knows the difference between a loss of form and a loss of will.
Note: It is ironic that Blackburn Rover’s shirt sponsor, is an online gambling firm!