Former England star Kenny Sansom has made an astonishing admission that he is homeless, admitting that problems with alcohol and gambling are to blame.
Sansom, who in his days at Arsenal earned £1,200-a-week and lived in a £1m mansion, has confirmed that he is now living rough on a park bench, causing his family to fear for his life on a regular basis.
Speaking to The Sun during a brief stay at his sister’s home, Sansom admitted: “I've been living homeless for 10 days.
“That's because I've got no money, I'm a drunk, I'm feeling not very well and I'm a gambler. I've been living on the street. It's not good living on the bench.
Sansom earned 86 caps for England – the second-most achieved by a defender behind Ashley Cole – but he has sold most of those to fund his descent into alcoholism.
The newspaper claims that he has been drinking seven bottles of rose wine each day, and that his only possessions left are a pay-as-you-go phone, a travel card and a £20 note, as well as the T-shirt and shorts on his back.
The ex-footballer expressed in his 2008 biography ‘To Cap It All…My Story’ that even during his playing days he was struggling with the twin demons of both alcohol and gambling, claiming to be in a betting shop nearly every day, while spending most afternoons in the pub playing snooker that earned him the nickname “Mr Chablis”.
He spoke publicly for the first time about his troubles in 2011, but he was found earlier this year collapsed close to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and was admitted to hospital which triggered his rapid fall from grace.
His elder sister, Mary, has confessed her heart-break over his downfall, and he went missing shortly after the interview.
“He is breaking my heart. I wish he would just tell us where he is,” she said.
“On Fathers’ Day we found him crying in the kitchen because none of his kids had sent him anything. Underneath all this he is such a nice person. But he can’t get his act together.”
Sansom’s former manager at Arsenal George Graham admitted his surprise at the news, and claimed that he should get in touch with the Professional Footballers' Association, who he said could help him with what he is going through.
“He was a fantastic player under me when I was manager of Arsenal and he has over 80 caps for England,” said Graham.
“He was a model professional and it is very, very sad to hear that news. I am really surprised. I haven’t heard from Kenny for quite a while. I think the last time I saw him was on Sky television, working away. So it comes as big surprise.
“I think he should get in touch with the PFA because they are usually very supportive when players get into problems like Kenny obviously has. I am sure that Gordon Taylor, like he has with many players in the past, will be very willing to help Kenny.
“It seems some people can handle success and some people can’t. Tony Adams is connected with the Sporting Chance clinic that helps ex-professionals. If I was Kenny I would get in touch with these people who I am sure will help him get out of the difficulties he finds himself in at present.
“I am sure there will be a lot of people, myself included, who would be willing to help him. But I think he has got to contact these bodies first, the PFA and the other bodies that run football who I am sure would be only too pleased to help him.”
His sister summed up the feeling of his family after his latest disappearance, saying: “We’re worried we’re going to find him dead in the street somewhere.”