What has Peter Shilton’s wife Steph Shilton said? England football star’s gambling addiction explained
The former Leicester City and Nottingham Forest goalkeeper has had a lifelong betting addiction, with his wife Steph Shilton detailing his recovery in a new BBC interview
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He has since recovered, with Steph Shilton urging other addicts to seek help in an interview with the BBC.
So what happened to Peter Shilton?
Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Peter Shilton?
Peter Shilton, 72, is a former footballer who starred for England, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest.
In a career spanning 31 years and taking in more than 1,000 league games, the goalkeeper won the First Division title, twice won the European Cup and appeared in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) team of the year 10 times.
However, he is best known for his role in the controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal Diego Maradona scored against England at the 1986 World Cup.
Since retiring in 1997, he has had a career as an after-dinner speaker.
How bad was Peter Shilton’s gambling addiction?
In 2020, Peter Shilton revealed his 45-year-long gambling addiction in an interview with the Daily Mail.
At the time, the football great said he had “never won at gambling” and found it “frightening”.
He announced he was working with the government to raise awareness of the issues associated with gambling, including mental health problems.
Mr Shilton has also worked with the charity Gambling with Lives - an organisation that was set up by bereaved parents of gamblers.
In an interview with the BBC published on Sunday (7 August), Peter Shilton’s wife Steph Shilton has revealed more detail on her husband’s addiction issues.
She said she initially thought he was seeing another woman after the pair got together in 2012.
“He would go out of the room to use his phone; he was quite secretive,” the jazz singer said.
“I thought he was being a gentleman and not gambling in front of me, and that it was just a little hobby.”
However, it soon became apparent that her future husband was struggling with a major addiction when she found him gambling on horse racing in the middle of the night.
“That’s when it hit me that it’s not a hobby, that something was very wrong. I knew he had an addiction.”
Steph, who says she previously worked in the NHS, said the retired footballer was “very defensive” and “in denial” about his condition.
When he first proposed to her, she said she refused because of his addiction.
Mrs Shilton also said she kept her finances separate from her partner.
The first time she got her first real impression of the scale of his gambling problem was when she saw his bank statement that showed he was betting £18,000 a month.
“It was gobsmacking. I was shocked to the core. I thought ‘oh my god, he is so ill’. It broke my heart,” Steph Shilton told the BBC.
How did Peter Shilton recover from gambling addiction?
Soon after discovering the full extent of Peter Shilton’s addiction, Steph Shilton had a miscarriage.
Her partner became even more withdrawn and looked visibly unwell, she said.
One day, Mrs Shilton said she was going to sleep in the spare bedroom at the couple’s home in Mersea, Essex.
The next day, Peter Shilton resolved to get help for his gambling problem.
The footballer had to go through a “full-blown withdrawal” over a period of several months, before his addiction began to subside.
Despite approaching Betfair - the company Mr Shilton placed bets with - in a bid to at least place limits on her partner’s account, Steph Shilton said the company “didn’t do anything at all”.
The gambling firm told the BBC that is has now changed its policies and has made it easier to suspend or pause the accounts of suspected addicts.
More than seven years on, Steph Shilton says her husband - whom she wed in 2016 - has fully recovered from his addiction and says he’s the happiest he’s ever been in his personal life.
Steph Shilton has since become a fully-qualified therapist and also works as an ambassador for ARA - Addiction Recovery Agency - on its Six to Ten project.