‘I owe it to Ipswich Town to get better,’ 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 three of the exclusive interview he admits he didn’t warn Town of his full problems and insists he wants to repay back their faith.
CHOPRA: ‘I DIDN’T TELL IPSWICH HOW SERIOUS IT WAS’
“I came to Ipswich for a fresh start. I told the manager and the club about my problems but I didn’t make them aware of how serious it was.
“I realised it wasn’t fair me being at a football club where the owner (Marcus Evans) has spent good money on you, the manager (Paul Jewell) is looking after you, with Simon Clegg (chief executive) ringing me every day asking how I was.
“They’ve put their belief in me and I have to give my full effort back. I owe them that. They didn’t have to bring me here, they knew my problems, but they did.
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“Whenever I come to training the lads ask me how I am. They ring me up in the evening asking if I need any company.
“I can’t thank the people at this football club enough.”
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CHOPRA: ‘THIS IS A HUGE RELEASE’
“I feel a much better person for doing this. The lads were asking me how I was this morning and I told them I feel brilliant. Now I can actually cope with being bored, I can go home chill out, relax and not think about having a bet.
“I feel fantastic because for the first time I am waking up in the morning with a clear mind. Normally when I was gambling I would wake up and think ‘God, I’ve just lost a bet, what bet can I do today to get that money back?
“At previous clinics I didn’t really go into detail about what my problems were. This time I’ve gone into everything. My life since I was about seven or eight – the therapists know about it all.
“I had a lot of things inside myself that I was hiding but they’re all out in the open now.
“It just feels like a big release. It feels like someone has had a big chain on me for the last few years and that they’ve been pulling me back and pulling me back. Now that chain has gone thanks to my honesty and it’s a massive release.
“I just can’t wait to let my football do the talking.”
CHOPRA: ‘I KNOW I’M NOT CURED YET’
“Obviously I’m not cured, it will take a long time to do that. You’ve just got to take it day-by-day. You never know, tomorrow I could have a bet.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next day, all I know is I don’t want a bet at the moment.
“I have realised that if I’m thinking about having a bet there are people on the other end of a phone to speak to.
“I’ll take each day as it comes and will continue to get better. I know it’s not going to stop all of a sudden. It will go on for years to come.
“I see people in meetings that haven’t had a bet for 25 years and I think to myself ‘how do you do that?’ But as I’m going along and reading books I’m realising that you do need to go to meetings every week.
“Being 27 I’ve thankfully still got a few years left in the game, but I just wish I’d realised the addiction that I had about five years ago. If people want to take the mick out of me I’m not bothered, I’ll be a stronger person for coming out and talking about this.”