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Former Reading Midfielder Reveals Gambling Problem

There have been plenty of high profile incidents of sportsmen and women who suffer from gambling addiction and now former Royals midfielder Scott Davies explains how his issues began while on Reading's books.

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If you don't know who Scott Davies is, I can't say I blame you an awful lot. After loan spells away at Yeading and Aldershot he was handed his Reading debut by Brendan Rodgers in 2009 after a pre-season campaign that had seen him fire home a free-kick against Champions Chelsea in a friendly (which you can see around the three minute mark here) He managed to make starts in each of our first three Championship games but fell down the pecking order after the arrivals of Jobi McAnuff and Brian Howard towards the end of the transfer window.

Several loan spells away from the Madejski Stadium followed before the midfielder was eventually released in the summer of 2011. Davies would then bounce around the lower divisions with Crawley, Aldershot and Oxford before winding up at his present club of Wealdstone in the National League South - The sixth tier of English football at just 27 years old.

It was during his early years while on Reading's books that Davies tells the Crawley News that his gambling problems started.

"It was a massive part of my life, I went to rehab this summer for a month - I missed pre-season because I had to get it sorted.

The addiction just got hold of me.

It started on the coach to away games when I was 19.

It became second nature and you start looking forward to away games because you know you're going to be playing poker for four or five hours on the way, and then all evening in the hotel and on the morning of the game. It's ridiculous really, it almost turned into a card school rather than a football team.

I used to rush out of training each day to go to the bookies, I didn't apply myself like other pros did and now they're reaping the rewards and I'm not.

t's my own fault. I was absolutely helpless, I had no control over it. I can laugh about it now, but back then I was in a cycle that I couldn't break."

Thankfully the midfielder has seemingly beaten his demons for the time being and is hoping to use his experiences into helping other young footballers who may fall into the same traps.

"I've been asked to go and do talks at some Premier League youth teams because the problem of gambling is becoming bigger and bigger. I put my story to them and try and knock them off it in the early stages.

The money they are earning is ridiculous and there's no real advice or control over what they do with their finances, so it's going to become more of a problem.

But unless they want to stop, they're not going to. That was my problem, I tried to stop when I was 22 but I didn't want to stop because I was earning a six-figure sum each year and I knew I was going to get paid in a couple of weeks, so I might as well carry on.

It's something I feel really passionate about now."

If his issues started while he was 19 than it suggests it may have occurred while away on loan at Aldershot and there's no evidence to suggest it was a wider issue at the Madejski Stadium. However it does go to show that even now with all the support available to young players they're still only human and have the same problems and issues that many people from ordinary life have to battle with.

We sometimes make jokes on our podcast about #gambleaware but it's a serious issue that can impact lives in horrible ways and if you do need support, please go out and seek it.

We wish Scott all the best going forward and you can read plenty more on his struggles via the Crawley News here.