Footballer Paul Merson blew his entire £800,000 pension at 35 to fund his gambling addiction, his autobiography reveals.
The betting spree took place in February 2004 when the former Arsenal and England star was player-manager of Walsall. In his autobiography, which is being serialised in The Times, Merson says he spent the entire pension pot in just two months after the break-up of his second marriage.
He says: “My old mates, booze and betting, were back again, but as one beer led to a lorryload more, the absol- utely worst thing in the world that could have happened to me at that moment happened, I turned 35.
“On paper, this is not the most disastrous landmark in the world but at 35, professional footballers can draw on their pension. I drew out all £800,000 of it in one hit and blew it in a couple of months.”
The Professional Footballers pension scheme was reformed in 2006, with the normal retirement age increased to age 55 for new members. However, anyone who joined the scheme before April 6, 2006 is still able to draw their entire fund at 35.