Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty tells of first visit to Gamblers Anonymous

By Stewart Robson

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty has attended his first Gamblers Anonymous meeting after speaking out about his addiction last month.

In a tweet posted yesterday, the Fermanagh-born goalscorer urged others suffering from a gambling addiction to 'fight your demons'.

One follower responded to Lafferty's post saying, "Keep at it big man. You have support worldwide." Another said, "Well done Kyle, we're all with you."

Lafferty had previously been fined £23,000 and warned over future conduct after the English Football Association charged him with misconduct.

The 30-year-old was found to have breached rules set by the Football Association.

Professional footballers are banned from betting on professional matches.

The Enniskillen man, who scored seven goals in nine games during the Euro 2016 qualifiers, spoke to the BBC in September about how gambling almost stopped his Euro dream coming true.

"It was leading up to the Euros and I had all sorts going through my head, thinking I was going to be banned, but I'd have had no-one to blame but myself had that happened. I put my career on the line.

"I know I'm going to take all sorts of grief off fans of other clubs. It's a big thing to do what I'm doing. I could have got help in private and nobody would have known about it.

"I want to do it publicly because I want to be honest and if there are any other footballers who are addicted to gambling, then maybe me speaking about my battle might help them."

Lafferty also said how gambling put a strain on his relationship with wife Vanessa.

"Vanessa will tell you I don't like talking. I don't know what it is. I like keeping everything to myself, but the time has come now," he said.

The striker has received public support from his club, Heart of Midlothian, and his international boss, Michael O'Neill.

Lafferty has scored 20 goals for Northern Ireland since his debut in 2006.

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