Former Manchester United footballer Keith Gillespie has broken his silence about how he lost his fortune.
Speaking to Sunday Life, the former Northern Ireland winger said he was now determined to recover his cash — declaring: “I’m fighting to get my money back.”
Gillespie says he’s ready to go to court to recover more than £500,000 he says belongs to him.
Larne-born Gillespie, who earned more than £5million during his 17-year career, was publicly declared bankrupt nine days ago over a tax bill.
Talking candidly about his plight Gillespie, 35, revealed:
- He is launching a desperate legal battle to claw back his cash;
- More than £500,000 of his money disappeared in a series of bad business deals;
- Going bust has heaped “heartache” on his family.
Speaking to us at his plush family home in Bangor, Co Down, Gillespie said he was preparing to go court over some bad investments where he feels let down.
“I’ve lost hundreds of thousands,” he admitted.
“It is well over £500,000.”
The trouble-hit former player added: “There will be an upcoming court case and I’m fighting to get my money back.”
Gillespie — who is currently without a club after leaving Glentoran in June — said his financial woes started when he invested in films.
Ironically, in light of his problems with the Inland Revenue, he sunk cash into the movie industry to take advantage of tax benefits.
Gillespie said: “My outstanding debts are from the Inland Revenue and they came about after a film investment.
“There were tax benefits from investing at the time and quite a few footballers got involved in it.
“The court case will deal with all the details. At the minute it’s just very complicated.”
For legal reasons we cannot at this stage name the parties Gillespie intends to challenge in court.
Keith Gillespie joined United as a schoolboy and is one of Northern Ireland’s most capped players with 86 appearances since his debut in 1994.
He is believed to have earned around £40,000 a week at the peak of his career with Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United.
But High Court papers declaring him bankrupt were made public at the start of this month.
Under the move — which will last for at least a year — Gillespie will not be able to get credit of more than £250 without special permission and is barred from running a company.
A Revenue and Customs spokesman confirmed they had taken action against Gillespie over a tax bill but refused to say how much was owed.
Gillespie told us that even though he was taking the ruling in his stride it had caused “heartache” and “stress” for his family.
“I’m an easy-going person and I’m not at all fussed this has come out,” he said.
“It’s just what happens when you’re in the public eye. Once the court case is over I’ll be talking more.
“But unlike me it has definitely caused the family heartache and stress.
“I’m sure they’ve suffered their share of heartache over it.”
Gillespie left cash-strapped Irish League side Glentoran in June — where he was earning around £1,500 a week — after failing to agree terms.
But he insisted last night that along with recovering his earnings he will rebuild his football career.
“I’ve got a lot of things in the pipeline in regards to playing,” Gillespie added.
“It could mean I could go anywhere and my job could take me anywhere.”
He is currently mulling over interest from clubs in Australia and America, where his old Man United pal David Beckham plies his trade.
Despite the bankruptcy ruling Gillespie is still living in luxury in Bangor with his blonde English wife Vicky.
The couple — snapped here
smiling in happier times — have a plush four-bedroom detached pad at Ballycrochan Avenue, about 10 minutes from Bangor town centre.
Gillespie bought the house in 2007 for £316,188 and still pays a mortgage on it.
And even though it seems the former star isn’t able to afford a champagne lifestyle he drives a silver BMW 4x4 — worth around £30,000 new.
“I’m secure,” Gillespie insisted last night.
“There’s been no demands for repossessions for a house or car.
“I’m in no danger of losing my home.”
Gillespie is no stranger to negative headlines. He had a reputation as a party animal and gambler and in 1998 told lads’ mag Loaded he once blew £47,000 in one day.
But Gillespie later swapped his betting habit for golf and said: “I never go near the bookies now.”
Gillespie’s career took off when he moved to Manchester United after leaving Bangor Grammar School in 1991.
He was in the club’s famous 1992 FA Youth Cup-winning side with future Red Devils stars Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Gary Neville. The Man Utd brat pack were affectionately dubbed ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’.
That didn’t stop Sir Alex Ferguson selling Gillespie to Newcastle — in a 1995 swap deal worth £7million that brought Geordie superstar striker Andy Cole to United.
Gillespie went on to make more than 100 appearances for Newcastle before leaving for Blackburn in 1998.
The move was worth £2.3million.