September 18, 2021

‘I was £400,000 down’ – Former Arsenal star Bendtner opens up on gambling addiction

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The former Denmark striker has admitted that he needed a wake-up call to realise that he had a problem

Former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner has opened up on the gambling addiction that saw him go £400,000 down in a single night.

The former Denmark international admitted that during a period of injury problems when he was 23, he took to gambling in a bid to recreate the excitement he felt on the field.

Although he felt it was not a problem at the time, he admits that in hindsight it was an issue.

“At times it could seem like an addiction,” he told the BBC. “I always felt I had it under control but that night was the sort of turning point for me. I knew this isn’t the lifestyle I want.

“When I had a lot of injuries on the pitch, I couldn’t find that excitement level of going on, playing in front of 60,000. There wasn’t anything that lived up to that. The only time I could get that competitive feeling was going to the casino.

“The higher the stakes, the higher the adrenaline rush.

“I was £400,000 down but ended up winning quite a lot of it back and only ended up losing £20,000 on the night.

“It felt terrible but after I won it back I had a really hard think at the hotel when I got home and just knew that was the end of my big gambling nights.

“I didn’t want to be just another guy who played football and lost all his money and didn’t use his brain.

“It was important for me to go back to my roots and re-gather. Looking back now I’m happy that it happened as I may not have got that wake-up call.”

He admits that at times he was immature in his approach to the game, such as when he squared off with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

“Henry tells me to shut up, this time with a lot of swear words included. And in hindsight it is good advice. But I am not taking it on. I shout back. He confronts me, yells into my face, says all kinds of things,” he wrote in his book.

“But that is not the end of it. After training Henry comes after me.

“After, he put his arm around me and said: ‘Listen I need to explain a few things about how this works.’ That gave me a lot of respect for the guy. I thought that was really big. For three months I didn’t train with them [the first team] and that was my lesson. It showed me and I knew to shut it. It helped me a lot. I was 16 at this point.

“Looking back now I think you should just keep your head down and do what your elders tell you. I think that’s one of the things that still should remain in football but I was just very competitive and I was just in that zone. You didn’t obviously know how it all worked. It was all new so you had to learn. That was a big learning curve for me.”

Bendtner, who is 32, had a career that saw him turn out for Arsenal, Birmingham, Sunderland, Juventus, Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest, Rosenborg and most recently Copenhagen.