11 Famous Soccer Players Who Went Bankrupt

Wes Brown soccer players who went bankrupt Manchester United's Wes Brown during the legends match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
(Photo by Dave Howarth/PA Images via Getty Images)

Many soccer players come from rags to riches benefiting immensely from dear talent and dedication, and Jill 2xl in the sports from living in poverty 2 be able to buy the world’s most expensive cars and exotic lifestyle. Soccer players are used to that trend.

Soccer players earn thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of dollars every week, which, cumulatively, piles up into riches.

With this in mind, many would expect soccer players to be comfortable and rich throughout the rest of their lifetimes, even after they retire, but that is not usually the case.

Many players lose their ways after retirement, with some evaporating to the background, some getting involved in crimes and lawsuits, while a couple enters into coaching or other businesses to thrive.

The most unfortunate ones are those who lose everything after playing soccer for several years; here, we look at soccer players who went bankrupt.

1. Wes Brown

Wes Brown soccer players who went bankrupt Manchester United's Wes Brown during the legends match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
(Photo by Dave Howarth/PA Images via Getty Images)

Wes Brown played for Manchester United during his days and, at some point, earned £50,000 weekly.

He retired from Kerala Blasters in India and also after 23 caps for England, but after a divorce from his actress wife Leanne Wassell last year, he placed his home for sale at £ 4.5 million home.

He was declared bankrupt In late June 2023, and it’s not unconnected to his divorce settlements.

2. Royston Drenthe

Royston Drenthe was declared bankrupt by a Dutch court in December 2020 despite playing for the Dutch national team and notably Real Madrid.

Unlike others on the list, the 36-year-old is still playing currently features with the Spanish club Racing Murcia.

However, it is highly unlikely that he will recover around £ 3.2 million he initially earned and lost from his football career.
Even if he was to recover, it wouldn’t be through soccer. Drenthe’s party lifestyle drained his finances.

3. Asamoah Gyan

Asamoah Gyan at FIFA WORLD Cup

Former Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan retired from football in June, but it was understood that he was broke before his retirement.

The Ghanaian played for Sunderland in the Premier League but also went to money-spinning leagues in Asia, like China and Saudi Arabia.

Despite all these, the former striker claimed to have just £600 in his bank account back in 2018 and was unable to provide for his family.

Gyan lost a lot of his wealth to family squabbles and occasionally did punditry on TV.

4. Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho in Prison

Ronaldinho is undoubtedly one of the greatest soccer players of all time, and his influence is still active in the world of soccer.

It was shocking, surprising, and saddening when it was revealed that former Brazil star Ronaldinho had just £5 to his name in 2018 and still owed debts of up to £ 1.75 million.

The former Barcelona and AC Milan star lost a huge amount of his fortune to fines and sanctions, especially for illegal construction in a protected area in Brazil.

It was so bad that selling his property was not enough to clear his debt, leading to the seizure of his passport.

He even spent time in a Paraguayan jail for allegedly attempting to enter the country with forged documents, making him one of the few soccer players who went to prison.

5. David James

David James
(Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside via Getty Images)

David James was one of the best goalkeepers that England has ever seen, having played for a plethora of clubs in the Premier League.

He is currently among the goalkeepers with the highest clean sheets in the Premier League.

James lost around £20m of fortune when he declared bankruptcy in 2014.

Despite earning an estimated £20m from his career, the came as a shock when the former England No. 1 declared himself bankrupt in 2014.

Furthermore, although he was a top goalkeeper in his days, he couldn’t save his marriage which ended in divorce in 2005. The divorce saw him pay settlements and rack up debts.

6. Brad Friedel

Brad Friedel best US soccer players of all time
USA’s Brad Friedel (Photo by Tony Marshall/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Brad Friedel had an illustrious career that made him widely considered to be among the best US soccer players of all time.

American goalkeeper had ambitions of building a soccer academy in his home country, but things didn’t go as planned, and he racked up debts to the tune of £5M.

It all started in 2017 when Friedel launched a non-profit soccer academy in Lorain, Ohio, investing a staggering $10 million to provide full-tuition scholarships to young players aged 12 and older.

However, the academy struggled to maintain corporate sponsorship after the 2008 financial crisis and was ultimately forced to close its doors in 2011.

To make matters worse, Friedel was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in the UK due to mounting debts related to the academy.

This debt saw his house repossessed and still wasn’t enough to set off his debts.

7. John Arne Riise

John Arne Riise Soccer Players who went bankrupt Fulham's John Arne Riise celebrates after the game
(Photo by Stephen Pond – PA Images via Getty Images)

John Arne Riise lost almost everything he had, ironically, while still earning £ 50,000 a week at Liverpool. This was just two years after winning the Champions League with Liverpool.

In 2007, the defender was linked to an alleged £3m fraud investigation in Norway, and he eventually had an unpaid debt of around £100,000 before he was declared bankrupt in 2007.

8. Eric Djemba-Djemba

Eric Djemba-Djemba is widely remembered for his days at Old Trafford playing for Manchester United alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs.

Djemba-Djemba was declared bankrupt four years after moving to Aston Villa, and it was all doing to his way of handling money.

He was said to have spent almost every salary to repay loan debts on a weekly basis.

The Cameroonian midfielder tried to recoup a bit he could at St Mirren and in the Indian Super League, and even in the Swiss fifth tier before retiring.

9. Celestine Babayaro

Former Chelsea and Nigerian player Celestine Babayaro was declared bankrupt in 2011 despite playing for top clubs around Europe and the MLS.

The 1996 Olympics gold winner was deep in debt and repaid loans until he was declared bankrupt.

10. Paul Merson

Paul Merson Football Players Who Have Struggled with Gambling Addiction
Getty Images

The Arsenal legend’s fortune of £7m was blown away by the treacherous trio of gambling, booze, and drugs, leaving him penniless.

He is one of the few soccer players who have struggled with gambling addition.

In his darkest hour, he even contemplated breaking his own fingers to prevent himself from calling the bookies.

Despite cashing in on his £800,000 pension to fuel his betting frenzy, the former midfielder, now 55, went broke.

But from the ashes of his financial ruin, he has risen to become a regular pundit for Sky Sports, where he now works.

11. Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne Soccer Players who went bankrupt
(Photo by Nick Potts/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Paul Gascoigne, a former England midfielder and soccer star, was another popular English soccer player who went bankrupt due to his mounting debts.

In 2016, Paul Gascoigne was on the brink of financial ruin, facing a staggering bill of £42,000 in unpaid taxes to the HMRC. But despite this looming threat, the former England hero managed to evade bankruptcy.

However, his troubles were far from over. Reports emerged of Gascoigne’s debts reaching an alarming £200,000, painting a picture of a man teetering on the edge of a financial abyss.

But his financial struggles were only a small part of his larger battle with depression and substance abuse.

Nonetheless, he has managed to turn his life around since then.


You don’t speak badly of the gone, but Diego Maradona is a notable mention on this list, as he was declared bankrupt twice before his death. Emmanuel Eboue was also bankrupt and broke after a painful divorce left him penniless.

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