‘I can’t keep lying to the people I love,’ says Chopra
IPSWICH Town star striker Michael Chopra has today spoken with moving honesty to the EADT and Evening Star about the gambling addiction that was threatening to wreck his life. In part two of the exclusive interview he describes his recent spell at the Sporting Chance Clinic and how he wants his family life to improve.
CHOPRA: CHECKING INTO THE SPORTING CHANCE CLINIC
“The Monday after the Brighton game (a 3-1 home win in which he scored twice) I started at the clinic. It was probably a good two or three weeks before that when I knew I was going to go in there though.
“It was just a case of waiting for the international break so that I had a week off training. Because I was progressing so well in the clinic – basically I was loving it in there, I was loving talking to people and expressing my problems – I then decided to stay in there for 21 days altogether.
“It’s a cottage, you’re living with five other people and I got on really well with the lads. They take your phone off you, you’re not allowed to watch TV. Basically they’re trying to make you cope with being bored.
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“I left the clinic at three o’clock on Friday afternoon, travelled to Cardiff, got there about six or seven o’clock with the lads, played the game and straight away I was back in the clinic on the Saturday night.
“It was the same with the Tuesday game (Portsmouth) and last weekend (Crystal Palace). I knew my football was suffering, but the club appreciated that I had to get better.”
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CHOPRA: I’VE LIED TO THE ONES I LOVE
“I just want to be honest with everybody now. Gamblers are the best liars around and I’ve realised that.
“I use my mum and dad as an example. I’d lie to them about where I was and things like that. My mum and dad have said to me this week that this is the first time in a long time that they’ve been able to have a proper conversation with me.
“I used to go and see them for five or ten minutes and then just want to disappear down the bookies.
“I’m spending a lot more time with my little three-and-a-half-year-old boy which before I wasn’t grateful of. People say that your kids should be the best thing in your world but as a gambler I didn’t see that.
“Yesterday I went home to see him and spent eight or nine hours with him. It was amazing, I didn’t have any thoughts about gambling at all.
“I’ve realised that I’ve got to give something back to my little boy because he needs me as much as I need other people.”