There was a “sizeable band” of English internationals who gambled excessively during the 2004 European Championships, retired midfielder Kieron Dyer revealed in his upcoming autobiography, with some of their bets soaring into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“The amounts of money that we gambled in my time with England grew more extreme as the years went by, until it got to the point where I thought there was a huge danger it was destabilising individuals and potentially affecting our results,” Dyer wrote.
“We were like clandestine drinkers, hiding ourselves to get wasted. Except the drug was gambling and there was a sizeable band of us that were addicted.”
- Michael Owen was England’s de facto bookmaker at the 2002 World Cup.
- Hundreds of thousands of pounds in wagers were commonplace between teammates at Euro 2004.
- In a single night, Dyer said he went from a deficit of £46,000 to a profit of £50,000. These were roughly his weekly wages.
- Gambling was discouraged 72 hours before matches.
- Some players found themselves a “few hundred grand” in the hole on any given night.
Gambling apparently spiked during Sven-Goran Eriksson’s reign, and extended to qualifiers for the 2008 Euros. England ended up missing the tournament after finishing third to Russia and Croatia in qualifying Group E.
Some of the bets were “ridiculous, eye-wateringly huge,” Dyer said.
Others who were down on their luck “could easily have been half a million down,” the 39-year-old added.
The most telling bit was Dyer’s admission that the gambling may have prevented England from reaching its potential.
“How can you go into an important game and not have that playing on your mind?” he wrote. “I don’t see how you can go out against France, say, in one of the biggest games of your life and play your best football.”