11 January, 2008

Living the Dream

To quote the immortal George Best (R.I.P) - “I spent most of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I squandered.” That’s what being a footballer is all about, not mincing around doing adverts for hair gel and cameos in Hollyoaks.

However, ex-Arsenal hero, part-time coke fiend and shadow MENSA member Paul Merson has basically hit rock bottom today from living the life, and STT finds no joy in that. The former millionaire, who once earned £20,000 a week, has now been forced to quit his plush £300,000 flat in upmarket Four Oaks, West Midlands, and move back into his parents' ex-council house after failing to pay his mortgage.

A close friend told The Mirror that “He's homeless, it's so bloody sad. At the age of nearly 40, considering all he's done and all the money he's earned, he's gone back to square one and the house where he was a teenager…He drinks, he gambles, he womanises. He's an addict in a mess.” To give you an idea of the extent of the problem, Merse once admitted to having splashed out £7 million on his addictions to alcohol, gambling and Peruvian marching powder over the years.

Although Merse still earns well from work on Sky Sports, and quite incredulously, on the after-dinner speaking circuit, all that comes in is just immediately squandered on his addictions. “He's living hand-to-mouth,” as the same friend succinctly put it to the press last night.

On top of mounting gambling debts, father-of-five Merson is still supporting his first wife Lorraine, and the couple's three teenage boys, as well as second wife Louise, and their six-year-old twins. This flat is just the latest in a series of items repossessed by the Lloyds Bank sack-full-of-doorknobs-wielding heavies, as last year in April Merse’s Range Rover was sold off at auction after he failed to keep up with the £900-a-month repayments.

For a guy who won the FA Cup, the European Cup Winner’s Cup, the League Cup, the League title, in addition to 21 caps for England, this is truly a tragic state of affairs. There’s a lesson here kids: if you’re gonna ‘invest’ 90% of your income in prozzies and blow, make sure you waste the other 10% in a high-interest savings account.