Footballers who blew their fortune and ended up broke as Manchester United star Wes Brown declares bankruptcy | The Sun

FROM rags to riches and back again – unfortunately, it's an all too common trend in football.

This week it emerged former Manchester United ace Wes Brown, 43, was declared bankrupt.

The Mirror claim HMRC filed a bankruptcy petition against the ex-England defender in February, which was signed off at the High Court on April 12.

Brown – who split from his Real Housewives of Cheshire star wife Leanne, with whom he shared a £4.5million home, last year – reportedly earned up to £50,000 a week during his spell at Old Trafford.

He later had spells at Sunderland and Blackburn and won 23 England caps before retiring at Kerala Blasters.

Here we take a look back at other high-profile footballers who blew their millions on booze, bets and… football academies.


The former Everton star and Holland international was declared bankrupt in December 2020.

The 36-year-old is currently plying his trade with Spanish club Racing Murcia, but has had some problems off the pitch.

As reported by Dutch news-site AD, a court in Breda handed down the bankruptcy order, though at the time he admitted: "I don't know the full ins and outs and I don't know exactly what is happening, but if it is what I think it is, it's not so important."

Drenthe previously revealed he had lost £3.2million earned from what looked like a promising football career.

The ex Real Madrid ace recently admitted his lifestyle got in the way of success at the Santiago Bernabeu, adding he thought he was "God" and loved to party.


Gazza, 55, managed to avoid bankruptcy in 2016 despite facing a £42,000 bill of unpaid taxes to HMRC.

But the England hero went through a troubled patch which saw him reportedly in debts of up to £200,000.

Gascoigne has struggled with depression and substance abuse.

In Channel 4's Scared of the Dark, he opened up about how he turned to the popular childrens' pain medication Calpol to get his fix as it contains a very small amount of benzyl alcohol.


Gambling, booze and drugs saw the Arsenal legend blow a staggering £7m fortune.

He once considered breaking his fingers to prevent him from phoning the bookies.

Merson, 55, went broke after cashing in on his £800,000 pension to allow him to go on a betting frenzy.

The former midfielder has recovered and works as a regular pundit for Sky Sports.


The former Sunderland striker used to drive around in a Rolls-Royce but was claimed to have just £600 in his bank account back in 2018 whilst being unable to provide for his family.

Gyan, who was reportedly earning £227,000-a-week at Shanghai SIPG, bizarrely seemed to have lost all his money amid a fallout with his family.

The 37-year-old ex-Prem star last played as a striker for Legon Cities back in his homeland.


Brazil's legendary star was reported to have just £5 in his bank account back in 2018 while still owing debts of up to £1.75million.

Ronaldinho, 43, was heavily fined for illegal construction in a protected area in Brazil.

Despite remortgaging his property, the former Barcelona star was still unable to cover the debts which saw a judge order for Ronaldinho's passport to be seized.

To compound his misery, Ronaldinho spent time in a Paraguayan prison in 2020 for allegedly attempting to enter the country with forged documents.


Despite earning an estimated £20m from his career, the former England No1 declared himself bankrupt in 2014.

As well as a lucrative career at Premier League clubs like Liverpool and Man City, James had modelled for Armani and owned multiple properties.

But a costly divorce in 2005 saw debts start racking up and courts instructed James, 52, to sell off his sports memorabilia, DJ equipment and a Vauxhall Astra van.


Ambitious plans to build a football academy in the United States blew up in the American's face.

Former Tottenham and Aston Villa goalkeeper Friedel, 51, reportedly owed £5m and repossession proceedings began on his £260,000 house.

This was despite the former head coach of MLS team New England Revolution, who he left in 2019, earning £50,000-a-week at Villa Park.


He was named Fifa's Player of the Century and then went bust.

Argentina icon Maradona, who tragically passed away in November 2020, twice broke the world record for transfers but in 2009 had to file for bankruptcy.

The Italian Tax Authority demanded he pay back £42m worth of unpaid taxes from his time playing for Napoli in the 1980s.


Two years after winning the Champions League with Liverpool, the defender was listed as bankrupt in 2007.

Norwegian left-back Riise was just 26 at the time and was believed to be earning £50,000-a-week at Anfield.

But an unpaid debt of around £100,000 was reportedly linked to an alleged £3m fraud investigation in Norway and Riise, 42, was declared bankrupt.


Having played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs at Manchester United, Djemba-Djemba was declared bankrupt four years after moving to Aston Villa.

The Cameroonian midfielder, 41, spent time at St Mirren and in the Indian Super League to recover funds, before later playing in front of just 88 fans in the Swiss fifth tier before retiring.


An addiction to gambling saw Man United product Keith Gillespie, 48, blow more than £7.2m.

After a career that saw him take Newcastle to the Champions League and play 80 times for Northern Ireland, the midfielder was declared broke in 2010 at the age of 35.

In an interview with the Guardianhe said: "I lost an awful lot of money through gambling over the years, but I also lost money on property and got involved in a film scheme like a lot of footballers did."


Babayaro, 44, was the popular left-back at Chelsea and Newcastle.

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Marauding up and down the left wing at Stamford Bridge and St James' Park in the 2000s, the Nigerian picked up a healthy pay packet.

But by January 2011 the defender was declared bankrupt on the public record of the London Gazette.

In a previous version of this article, we claimed Lee Hendrie had a gambling addiction, we acknowledge this is not the case.

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