Newcastle players gambled on team bus as 'part of team bonding' | inside World Soccer

Former Newcastle United striker Michael Chopra has lifted the lid on the culture of gambling at the Tyneside club.

Michael Chopra joined Newcastle aged 17 and it's there that he claims his gambling problems began
Michael Chopra joined Newcastle aged 17 and it's there that he claims his gambling problems began

Photo: AP

Chopra began his career at Newcastle and was once tipped to become the new Alan Shearer due to his prolific goalscoring record in the youth and reserve teams.

His problems began when he was promoted to the first team squad and became a member of a group who gambled hundreds of thousands of pounds playing cards on the team bus.

Speaking as a witness in a £750,000 cocaine trial, Chopra said: "I started gambling when I was 17 when I first broke through with Newcastle.

"I was travelling with the first team and there was a lot of gambling on the bus and I got involved.

"You were talking thousands being gambled, anything up to £30,000. We would go to the bank in the morning before we travelled.

"It was team bonding. You were taking money off each other, but also having a laugh.

"We were playing for real cash, if you were playing for £30,000 you would have it with you at the time.

"It has already been out in public, so I will just say it, I have probably lost about £2 million."

Chopra, now 29 and playing for Blackpool, added: "At 18 I realised it was a problem when I owed a company about £85,000.

"It got to the point when I would set my alarm for three or four in the morning to bet on games in South America. It was taking over my life."

A true Geordie, Chropa joined Newcastle's bitter rivals Sunderland in 2007 because he needed the signing-on fee to pay off his debts.

He explained: "I was at Cardiff for one year and then I went to Sunderland. I got a signing-on fee and paid my debts off.

"The main reason I went to Sunderland was to pay my debts off. When you go to the Premier League you earn more money."

The trial he was giving evidence at involves four men, Daniel Chisholm, 51, Christopher Bacon, 34, John Somerville, 53, and Joseph Lewins, 55, who are all accused of being involved in the drug scam.

Prosecutors allege that £50,000 found in the footwell of a Jaguar car by police was drug money but the court heard that this money had belonged to Chopra and was due to be paid to a loan shark.


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