Ronaldinho's ability to manage money failed to match his talents on the field. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Ronaldinho's ability to manage money failed to match his talents on the field. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Millions down the drain: soccer stars who lost it all

FROM rags to riches and back again.

Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan, who was earning $409,000 a week at Shanghai SIPG, yesterday became the latest start to reportedly go broke.

The Ghanaian striker used to drive around in a Rolls-Royce but is now understood to have just $1000 in his bank account while being unable to provide for his family.

Yet he's not the only footballer to go broke.

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


BRAZIL'S legendary playmaker  was reported to have just $8 in his bank account last month while still owing debts of up to $3.15 million.

Ronaldinho 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 and a judge ordered his passport be seized.


DESPIRE earning an estimated $36 million from his career, the former England No.1 declared himself bankrupt in 2014.

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

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


Diego Maradona has seen better days.
Diego Maradona has seen better days.

HE WAS named FIFA's Player of the Century and then went bust.

Argentina icon Maradona twice broke the world record for transfers but in 2009 had to file for bankruptcy.

The Italian Tax Authority demanded he pay back $75 million worth of unpaid taxes from his time playing for Napoli in the 1980s.


GAMBLING, booze and drugs caused the Arsenal legend to blow a staggering $1.1 million fortune.

The former midfielder has recovered and works as a regular pundit for Sky Sports, but he once considered breaking his fingers to prevent himself from phoning the bookies.

Merson went broke after cashing in on his pension to allow him to go on a betting frenzy.


John Arne Riise hit a rough patch.
John Arne Riise hit a rough patch.

TWO years after winning the Champions League with Liverpool, the defender was listed as bankrupt.

Norwegian left-back Riise was just 26 at the time and was believed to be earning $90,000 a week at Anfield.

But an unpaid debt of about $180,000 was reportedly linked to an alleged £3 million fraud investigation in Norway and Riise was declared bankrupt.


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

The Cameroonian midfielder spent time at St Mirren and in the Indian Super League to recover funds.

And as SunSport found out in November, Djemba-Djemba is now playing in front of as few as 88 fans in the Swiss fifth tier.


AMBITIOUS plans to build a football academy in the US blew up in the American's face.

Former Tottenham and Aston Villa goalkeeper Friedel reportedly owed $8 million and repossession proceedings began on his $460,000 house.

This was despite the current head coach of MLS team New England Revolution then earning $90,000 a week at Villa Park.


DEPRESSION and a gambling addiction caused one-time England man Hendrie to go broke.

Despite earning in excess of $54,000 a week while at Aston Villa, the former midfielder was declared bankrupt in January 2012 as he faced huge debts and repossessions.

Hendrie tried to take his own life on two occasions, He now works as an ambassador for mental health organisation Young Minds.


AN ADDICTION to gambling led former Man United player Keith Gillespie to blow more than $13 million.

After a career where he took Newcastle United to the Champions League and played 80 times for Northern Ireland, the midfielder was declared broke in 2010 at the age of 35.

In an interview with The Guardian, he 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."


GAZZA managed to avoid bankruptcy in 2016 despite facing a $75,000 bill of unpaid taxes to HMRC.

But the England hero went through a troubled patch where he reportedly had debts of up to $360,000.

Gascoigne has struggled with depression and substance abuse.


BABAYARO was a popular left-back at Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Marauding up and down the left wing at Stamford Bridge and St. James' Park in the noughties, 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.