MICHAEL Chopra says he joined Sunderland because he needed money to pay a gambling debt.
The striker signed from Cardiff to Sunderland for £5million in July 2007, which was a surprising and controversial move at the time because he was a diehard Newcastle fan and scored for the Magpies against the Black Cats.
But the Ipswich forward – who reckons he has gambled away up to £2million and recently checked into the Sporting Chance Clinic to address his addiction - said he switched clubs and often played with injury to cover a debt.
Chopra said: "Your first bet's your worst bet.
“As the years have come along and I've earned more money I've started to gamble more.
"I was gambling up to £20,000 a day at times. As soon as I'd step over the white line I would focus on football - but as soon as I got to the dressing room I would check my phone to see if I'd won.
"As a gambler you want to be playing to get the appearance money. I was playing through injury to cover a debt."
Self-confessed Newcastle fan Chopra said the signing on fee for joining Sunderland was used to pay off a gambling debt.
He continued: "In my first season at Cardiff I had a gambling debt from when I was at Newcastle.
“I had to leave Cardiff and sign for another team to pay that debt off.
"I have probably lost between £1.5million and £2million on gambling."
He added: "The main thing now is to get promoted with Ipswich. They've backed me and I want to pay them back."