Belfast Telegraph

Lafferty's delight after going a full year without gambling

Northern Ireland and Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty with his wife Vanessa
Northern Ireland and Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty with his wife Vanessa

By Lauren Harte

Former Armagh All-Ireland winner Oisin McConville has congratulated Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty for reaching the milestone of 365 days since he last placed a bet.

Lafferty took to Twitter yesterday to reveal his happiness at going a year without gambling.

The 30-year-old tweeted: "Never thought I would ever see this day. It's been one year today since the last time I placed a bet. I was in a dark place and lowest I've ever been and to come out of it and celebrate this achievement is amazing and I've never been happier. 365 days."

Among those wishing him well was his Northern Ireland team-mate Steven Davis who tweeted: "Well done big man, keep up the good work."

Stuart Dallas added: "Love that big man, keep it up".

Lafferty, who recently moved back to Rangers after a stint at Hearts, admitted a gambling problem had cost him thousands of pounds around 18 months ago. He was found guilty of breaching FA gambling rules and was handed a £23,000 fine in August 2016. However, he has not placed a bet since September 11, 2017.

The Fermanagh man has said he "lost big" in the past and that his issues with gambling began after he made his 2008 switch from Burnley to Rangers.

Speaking last year, he said: "About halfway through my contract with Rangers I didn't have anything better to do after training than go to the bookies or sit online. Betting on football had been banned and, if anything, things got worse.

"I'd bet on horses instead."

Former GAA star McConville (42) battled his own gambling demons for 12 years before finally turning the corner and is now a highly-respected addiction counsellor.

He told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "A day away from any addiction is a miracle and people in recovery will always say that it's about taking things one day at a time.

"The fact that Kyle has made those 365 days back-to-back is unbelievable. When you consider the depths that he went to, he will definitely feel better within himself. It's not just his life that will have changed but also the lives of those around him."

Last month Lafferty and wife Vanessa (27) became parents to a baby girl, Sienna Isabella.

McConville added: "Kids will give you that further incentive to put life in perspective and you will realise what the important things are. If I had kids when I was going through addiction, they would have got zero amount of my time because at that stage my biggest relationship was with gambling."

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