Thursday 17 January 2019

Kyle Lafferty: How the unfailing support of my wife helped me to beat gambling addiction

Kyle Lafferty says wife Vanessa and his football club have been a huge support in his battle with gambling
Kyle Lafferty says wife Vanessa and his football club have been a huge support in his battle with gambling

Allan Preston

Northern Ireland footballer Kyle Lafferty says he has been overwhelmed with support since admitting a gambling addiction.

The striker - who said he hasn't had a bet since September - praised his wife Vanessa and club Hearts for standing by him.

After a transfer to the Scottish Premiership side last year, the 30-year-old admitted his problem had cost him thousands.

"The help of the club and my wife along the way has been a massive support for me," Lafferty said.

"They just want what is best for me and to go eight months without gambling, especially with the place I was in, (means) I am in a good place."

Speaking to Sky TV, Lafferty said Austin MacPhee - the assistant coach of Hearts and Northern Ireland - was playing a major part in his recovery.

"Obviously, coming out about my gambling addiction is something I could have, should have done five, six, seven years ago. In the end I didn't want to stop," he added.

"I didn't want to admit that I had that problem. Since I have been at Hearts, Austin has been brilliant for me.

"He has been there for me every step of the way. Even three, four months down the line he is texting me to see if I'm doing okay or pulling me to one side to see if I'm still off it (gambling).

"To be fair to have someone there (has been important). He has been like a father figure. I am obviously happy I have come out and he has been there to support me."

Lafferty admits he still feels tempted but hasn't gambled since revealing his problem last year.

"The longest I was off it before I came out in September was about six or seven weeks but I didn't have that feeling that I wanted to stop," he said. "Since September 11, I think, I haven't gambled since. It is a massive milestone for me.

"There are days where I have that urge but I have got an amazing wife at home and an amazing family that supports me the whole way. That is an added bonus."

With family life now a priority, he said he was feeling hopeful for the future.

"I am expecting my first child with Vanessa so everything is kind of gelling together now," he said.

"It's all good and hopefully I am a Hearts player for the rest of my career. If that happens I am a very happy man."

Throughout his gambling problems the former Rangers star hasn't let his form on the pitch suffer, having scored 17 goals this season.

Hearts manager Craig Levein said he had high hopes of Lafferty.

"He's such a great character to have in the dressing room and he can finish," he said.

"He's scored some wonderful goals and the thing is I think he can do better. I think there's more to come."

Belfast Telegraph

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