7 Famous Football Players Who Struggled with Alcohol


There is a certain percentage of people who sincerely believe that athletes lead an exceptionally healthy lifestyle and avoid bad habits. Such footballers, of course, constitute the majority. However, there are also players who indulge in drinking, smoking or pampering themselves with something that not only affects their health, but can eventually destroy both the players career and their lives. Today we will talk about the most famous football players who abused alcohol. Unfortunately, some of them have not managed to escape the trap. Do not forget to subscribe and let’s kick off.


All current football fans will surely remember this phenomenal Brazilian. Adriano had everything to become a world-class footballer – speed, technique and excellent physical strength. Alas, the forward has not fulfilled his potential.

Life has opened for Adriano too many temptations, for which the avid Brazilian was not ready. He often spent time in nightclubs with girls, surrounded by companies of people who simply wanted to get drunk at the expense of others. In 2007, Adriano admitted that he had problems with alcohol. At the age of 25, the player was forced to leave Europe and return to Brazil in order to undergo a course of treatment for alcohol dependency closer to his home.

As it became known later, problems with alcohol began in 2004, when Adriano’s father died suddenly. As the ex-captain of Inter, Javier Zanetti, would later recall, the club and many teammates did everything they could to get the super-talented player out of depression, but they didn’t manage to fully return Adriano’s former faith in himself and in the bright future.

Adriano actually finished his football career in 2014. However, two years later he became a co-owner of the American club “Miami United”, where he was also listed as a football player. However, not having a single game for this team, Adriano left both the management stuff and the ranks of the players.


One of the greatest Brazilian football players of the 1980s, Socrates is often included to the best in the history of football by various rating compilers. Once he was called the “brain” of the Brazilian national team. His medical degree and political awareness earned him the nickname “Doctor Socrates”. The Brazilian was an intellectual, but he had problems with discipline and alcohol. He called himself an anti-athlete, referring to the fact that he could not deny himself certain weaknesses that the athlete’s regime prohibits. And the coaching staff, as a rule, closed their eyes to the life of the midfielder out of the field.  Socrates himself did not understand or simply did not want to understand that his passion for alcohol would lead to collapse of everything.

In the late summer of 2011, Socrates faced serious health complications. He was admitted to the hospital with gastrointestinal bleeding. The famous football player was discharged nine days later, and soon he told reporters that his huge passion for alcohol led to such consequences. Socrates, as a rule, avoided strong drinks, replacing them with beer and wine consumed in huge amounts. On December 3 of the same 2011, the legend was again urgently hospitalized. This time, the doctors could not save him and the great footballer died a day after intensive care. Socrates passed away at the age of 57.

Diego Armando Maradona

Many experienced fans believe that Maradona is the greatest footballer of all time. It is foolish to argue that Diego’s talent was absolutely colossal and ahead of his time. Full stadiums gathered only to see the play of Diego. The crowd loved Maradona, and he kindly answered fans with scored goals.

However, despite his incredible talent, Maradona was not an exemplary professional. In his autobiography, Diego admitted that he had serious problems with alcohol when he was a football player. On the pages, he shared a revelation that he would have achieved much more if he had not drunk a bottle of whiskey every evening.

After retirement, Maradona’s addiction to alcohol did not go away. The spring of 2007 was particularly alarming for the great Diego, when information about his hospitalization came from Argentina. The media wrote that Maradona developed hepatitis on the background of constant drinking. The Argentine was also diagnosed with cirrhosis [sɪ’rəusɪs]. Fortunately, the doctors managed to put Maradona on his legs and to some point restore his health.

After this incident, Maradona went to a psychiatric hospital and was treated for alcoholism. However, in the case of Diego, we should not forget about his addiction to drugs. Well… this is where a genius really borders with madness.

Tony Adams

The legendary defender of Arsenal and England national team Tony Adams also did not avoid serious problems associated with alcohol. Excessive and systematic drinking began back in the 80s. In 1996, he admitted his alcohol addiction, after it got to the point that during one of the drinking bouts, Adams fell down from the height of his own on the ground. In result, he needed about 30 stitches to address various lacerations of the head.

In his autobiography, Tony opened up that he began to experience problems with alcoholism since the age of 20. He tried to stop drinking several times, but he didn’t succeed. Luckily, the defender was rescued by Arsene Wenger, who implemented major changes in the structure of nutrition and training of Arsenal players. Adams stopped suffering from injuries and pain, so he quit drinking.

Adams retired from football in 2002, when he was 35 years old. Two years earlier, Tony opened a referral centre to help those in need overcome alcoholism.

Paul Gascoigne 

One more star Englishman, whose moment of glory has fallen on a turbulent period of British football between the eighties and the nineties. Problems with drinking began during his active career. For the first time, Gascoigne was admitted in the clinic in 1998 after having drunk 32 shots of whiskey at one of the parties. Paul fell on the floor, showing almost no signs of life. The treatment lasted for two weeks, after which Gascoigne was released from the clinic, as he refused to complete the full 28-day course of treatment.

Afterwards, Gascoigne seven times addressed various centers dealing with the treatment of chronic alcoholism, but each time he hit the ceiling. He was caught for drunk driving, and he got into the lenses of the paparazzi, once completely naked. Gascoigne was even tried several times for sexual harassment under the influence of alcohol. However, all these difficulties did not stop Gascoigne, and he again and again tippled the bottle.

In September 2008, Gascoigne was urgently hospitalized after a failed suicide attempt. As it turned out, Paul got drunk and stuffed himself with drugs, wishing to never open his eyes again. Doctors managed to pull the ex-football player literally from the next world. Alas, today, little has changed in the life of Gascoigne, and he still periodically falls into periods of hard drinking, looking at his 51 as a seventy-year old man.

Manuel Francisco dos Santos best known as simply Garrincha 

This legendary Brazilian is still remembered by old football fans of the late 50s-early 60s. According to eyewitnesses, Garrincha was really incredible. His speed and technique worked wonders on the field, despite the fact that he was disabled since birth: he suffered from squint, spinal deformity and displacement of his pelvis, while his left leg was 2 inches shorter than his right.

In addition to football, Garrincha loved to drink and spend time with women. The football legend spent almost all money earned from playing on these two weaknesses. As a result, at his senior years, Garrincha’s was left with little means of living.

The last days of Garrincha’s life were also associated with alcohol. From January 16 to January 18, 1983, he strolled around the bars, getting drunk. Having come home, Garrincha collapsed unconscious. The ambulance conveyed the ex-football player to the hospital in a state of coma. Early in the morning of January 20, health workers found Garrincha dead in his room. The cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver, which developed from alcoholism, pulmonary edema [‘pʌlmən(ə)rɪ] [ɪ’diːmə], and nervous system disorder.

George Best 

A phenomenal football player of Manchester United of the 60-70s, George Best, also did not avoid drinking problems. He loved the extravaganza around him, which is why there were always a lot of girls and one-night friends that simply wanted to hang out at the expense of others. But the problem was that George Best himself was not against such lifestyle. He always behaved eccentric and allowed himself everything he wanted. George did not hesitate to admit that he spent practically all his money on cars, women and drinks.

Best often got into unpleasant stories. Once he was stopped for drunk driving, and once got arrested for petit [‘petɪ] theft, when he wanted to drink madly but didn’t have cash at hand. Since the late 80s, being already retired, George Best earned his living as a commentator on television and radio. Sometimes he was invited as an expert to various football shows, during one of which he got wildly disgraced, having come on the air intoxicated.

Chronic alcoholism has led to severe problems with the liver and digestive system. In the summer of 2002, Best underwent a liver transplantation, but even this event did not stop George and he again took up the bottle. In October 2005, Best was hospitalized again with acute renal failure. Only then the ex-Man United star realized that the faith won’t give him a new chance.

On the 20th of November, national red top News of the World printed a picture of a dying George Best lying in a deathbed. The picture was accompanied by the words: “Don’t die like me.” This was the last will of Best, who tried to reach out to other people who considered alcohol addiction to be something frivolous and not dangerous.

On November 25, 2005, George Best passed away at the age of 59 from a pulmonary infection, numerous internal organ failures and internal bleeding. Thus, the life of a man whom Pele himself called “the greatest footballer in the world” was interrupted.


In this episode we have remembered the football legends. But also we draw a simple and vivid conclusion: alcoholism kills not only the sports, but the entire life. Please share the examples of other famous footballers who have faced similar problems. Do not forget to hit the subscribe button, and see you soon.

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