The fairytale theme of going from rags to riches is one that many soccer players in this generation can attest to because many of the players who are earning millions every year these days come from very poor backgrounds. For as long as these players are at the peak of their sporting careers, they have the ability to spend colossal amounts of money on things that the average income earner would consider meaningless. Sadly, some of the soccer players who achieve instant fame and fortune do not have a good education by the time they are playing in the big leagues and for them going back to school is never a priority.
The best thing about their period at the top of their game is that they can afford anything they want, but many of them do not realize that sustaining that lifestyle after they retire from the sport is very hard. The career of a professional soccer player is usually no more than 15 years since clubs start to set their eyes on fresh blood when their current superstars start hitting their thirties. Their short careers and lack of proper financial management skills usually leads to the same soccer players sinking low into bankruptcy or even back to poverty shortly after their careers are over.
The best thing a soccer player can do while at the peak of his or her career is learn how to invest, or pay people to invest his or her riches in a way that his or her retirement will not cause them to go broke. Here are 15 soccer players who should have spent their lustrous careers learning how to save and invest:
15 Alan Hudson
Alan Hudson is a former soccer player who was at the peak of his career in the 1970s. Alan played for teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal, and Stoke City, and made several appearances for the England National team. Hudson today lives in a hostel, on a disability allowance of £100 per week and a £300 monthly pension. His problems began when he was involved in an accident that put him in a 59-day coma and ended his soccer career. Ironically, he was going to buy a home with his wife on the day of the accident, but he is now homeless and jobless.
14 Paul Gascoigne
Paul John Gascoigne was one of the best soccer players in his day, hailing from the British Isles and playing for the English national team. Nicknamed 'Gazza', he played very attractive football and was clearly one of the best players of his time. He played for big European clubs such as Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Middlesbrough, Everton, and many others, which made him a good fortune back in his day. However, soon after retirement, he got involved in a lot of drug and alcohol addiction, which led him to depression and serious financial problems. He owed tax in excess of £32,000, which if he had not come to an out of court settlement would have landed him bankrupt.
13 Kenny Sansom
Kenneth Graham Sansom is a soccer legend in England. Having played for the English national team an impressive 86 times and played as a defender in big clubs such as Arsenal, Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle, and Everton among other clubs, Sansom enjoyed a wonderful career. His career made him a lot of money, which he lost to alcoholism and gambling related issues. His poor spending habits caused him to become homeless for a period, though he is making a living today as a TV pundit.
12 Carl Cort
Carl Edward Cort plays in the North American Soccer League for the Tampa Bay Rowdies as a striker. Earlier in his career, he used to play in Europe for clubs such as Newcastle United, Wimbledon, Leicester City, and Norwich City among others. At Newcastle, Cort was earning around £30,000 every week, and his performance on the pitch was well worth that amount. Cort, however, filed for bankruptcy later in his career owing to investments gone bad. He is still playing and working to reclaim his former glory.
11 Paul Merson
Paul Charles Merson was one of the great soccer players in England, playing for Arsenal and briefly for Aston Villa. Merson's career lasted an impressive 21 years, making in excess of £25,000 every week at one time while achieving great success throughout his career. Towards the end of his career, Merson was broke and almost homeless owing to his gambling, drug and alcohol addictions, that saw him lose well over £3 million. Merson had to sell his property to survive and as part of a divorce settlement. Today Merson works as a soccer TV Pundit.
10 Richard Rufus
Unlike most of the professional players in the British Premier League who play for different teams over the course of their careers, Richard Rufus stuck with Charlton Athletic for 11 years. He was a great defender during his time in club football, and he was earning more than £13,000 per week. This great salary was, however, not enough to save him from declaring bankruptcy soon after retirement in 2004, owing to the numerous injuries that forced him to hang his boots. The reasons for his bankruptcy include making bad investments, despite becoming a financial consultant after his soccer days.
9 Eric Djemba-Djemba
Eric Djemba-Djemba is a professional footballer from Cameroon, who plays for Persebaya Surabaya in Indonesia. During the height of his career, Eric played for different teams in France, Denmark, England, Qatar, Scotland, and Serbia. In England, for instance, he played for Manchester United and was earning at least £75,000 a month. Eric wasted his money on luxuries and a very expensive life, a situation that led to using up all his money paying debts and finally being declared bankrupt in 2007.
8 John Arne Riise
John Riise is a professional soccer player for the first division team APOEL in Cyprus. John enjoys a good career in Cyprus, though in 2007 he was declared bankrupt when he could not pay a debt of £100,000. At the time, Riise was playing for the English club Liverpool, and earning a handsome salary of £50,000 every week. Riise was also involved in a bitter legal battle with his former agent over an estimated £3 million fraud.
7 Celestine Babayaro
Celestine Babayaro was one of the most successful soccer players in the English premier league from Africa. This former defender and midfielder from Nigeria was earning a colossal weekly salary of over £45,000 when playing for Chelsea and Newcastle United. Babayaro's career came to a disappointing end after his contract with L.A. Galaxy went sour and Portsmouth refused to sign him in 2008. Babayaro was declared bankrupt in 2011 after retiring from the sport the previous year.
6 Brad Friedel
Bradley Friedel is a professional soccer player in the British Premier League playing for Tottenham Hotspur as a goalkeeper. He is one of the best goalkeepers today and has played for the United States national team and big clubs such as Aston Villa, Galatasaray, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool, and currently Tottenham Hotspur. Bradley, therefore, earns a very good salary, which is why it is such a surprise that he was declared bankrupt in 2011 in the United States. His football academy in Ohio was deep in debt, and it was not making any progress owing to its steep annual subscription fees. The banks thereafter repossessed his home, but he is still making a good living in Tottenham.
5 Keith Gillespie
Keith Gillespie is a former Manchester United and Newcastle United winger who lost in excess of £7 million, which he earned during his career in the Premier League. Gillespie rose to stardom at the age of 17 years old, but he sank to shame owing to his gambling and excessive drinking habits. He used to bet on everything he could, such as horse racing and even his then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Gillespie was declared bankrupt in 2010 and claims that his worst move was investing in a film syndicate, which swallowed most of his earnings as opposed to making him money.
4 Jason Euell
Jason Euell is a former striker and midfielder for Blackpool, Charlton, and Wimbledon during the prime of his soccer playing days, but is now the Charlton Athletic FC, under 21 coach. Unlike most other soccer players who squander their money and end up bankrupt, Euell is a victim of a fraud scheme. In 2011, Euell discovered that his signature was forged and being used in the dealings of a property company that drained his account. He is now back to building a different career as a coach and is careful about his financial decisions and what happens to his money even when he is not looking.
3 Lee Hendrie
Lee Hendrie is a former England international midfielder who was declared bankrupt in December 2011. Lee was at one time making in excess of £24,000 in a week while playing for Aston Villa, an amount that many people would only dream of making. However, in 2012 he was facing debts of close to £200,000, owing to his expensive lifestyle and investments gone bad. Lee lost his marriage, most of his property was repossessed, and he tried committing suicide twice. He is now picking up the pieces of his life and trying to regain his riches on the football pitch once more.
2 Chris Sutton
Chris Sutton is a former professional soccer player, who played for England as well as clubs such as Chelsea, Celtic, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, and Norwich City. Chris was declared bankrupt in 2014, with the main reason for this being his lavish lifestyle and investments gone bad. Chris and his wife are reported to have spent a total of £100,000 on a foreign currency spread betting scam. With transfer fees of a then-record £5 million and a career playing for some of the best clubs in England, it's hard to believe that Chris went broke.
1 David James
David James was one of the best goalkeepers in the English premier league, and his great skills helped him to earn a lot of money in the different clubs that he played for. In addition to playing for the English national team, James had a successful career in clubs such as Manchester United, West Ham, Aston Villa and Portsmouth. James was declared bankrupt in May 2014 after losing most of his £20 million that he earned during his career. A costly divorce, tax arrears, overspending, and poor investment choices led him down the path to bankruptcy.