Brisbane Lions star Allen Christensen says he requested a trade from Geelong to Brisbane to help quash his gambling addiction.
Speaking on his podcast ‘Addicted to the Game’, Christensen said his gambling addiction had cost him “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.
It was only when then-Geelong football manager Neil Balme came to him about rumours he “owed a few people money” that Christensen was able to begin turning his life around.
At the age of 23, he was trying to turn $5 into $200 just to pay rent – when he should have been at the peak of his AFL career.
The conversation with Balme sparked the positive change.
“He came knocking on the door and told me he’d been hearing things about me owing money to some people,” Christensen said.
“(Balme said) We need to help you”.
“I’m forever grateful for that because that was a lightbulb moment for me.”
Christensen won a premiership with the Cats in 2011, before letting his gambling spiral out of control in the years to follow.
He said he told the Lions “absolutely everything” about his problems before they took him on board.
“Everywhere I walked in Geelong … that’s the pub I turned $30 into $5000 or that’s the pub we turned $1000 into $5, everywhere I walked.
“I don’t know if I could have gone cold turkey straight away if I didn’t leave Geelong.
“I’m forever grateful to Brisbane for taking a chance on me at the time, there was a lot of s*** being spoken about me.”
Despite knowing of Christensen’s problem, the Lions announced a deal with a new co-major sponsor – corporate betting agency Neds.
Brisbane ran its new co-major sponsor past Christensen before they signed. He was fine with it. Said in the pod he understands betting agencies and has nothing against them. “It’s a business.”
— Michael Whiting (@MichaelWhiting) March 20, 2019
According to AFL.com.au’s Michael Whiting, the club spoke with their player before signing the deal.
Players opening up
Christensen is not the only AFL player to reveal their battle with off-field issues prior to the 2019 season kicking off.
“I haven’t told too many people this, but I found 2018 to be really hard,” Martin told The Age’s Executive Style magazine.
“I woke with a weird empty feeling inside and it was really strange.
“I had everything I wanted and everything I dreamt of, but I didn’t feel fulfilled or happy. I didn’t know what was going on.”