Football - Legendary England defender Kenny Sansom broke, drunk and homeless

Former Arsenal defender Kenny Sansom won 86 caps for England – but is now sleeping rough.

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Football - Legendary England defender Kenny Sansom broke, drunk and homeless
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Kenny Sansom of England in 1980 (PA Photos)

Sansom, 54, fell on hard times after retiring, with alcohol and gambling filling the free hours in the day.

After quitting playing professionally at the age of 36, he has played non-league and Masters football while carving out a career doing punditry for several TV channels.

Despite having been described by former Gunners boss George Graham as a "model professional" during his playing days, the former left-back told The Sun:

"I've been living homeless for 10 days. That's because I've got no money, I'm a drunk, I'm feeling not very well and I'm a gambler.

"I've been living on the street. It's not good living on the bench."

According to The Sun, Sansom – who is England’s second-most capped full-back after Ashley Cole – was taken in by his sister but disappeared again after a few days.

Londoner Sansom had a long and illustrious playing career, coming through the ranks at Crystal Palace before joining Arsenal in 1980.

He became an ever-present for England, playing in two World Cups and two European Championships, spending eight years at Arsenal and later turning out for Newcastle United, QPR, Coventry City, Everton, Brentford and Watford.

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But footballers did not earn close to what they make now – he was on £1,200 per week at Arsenal – and with that all gone, personal problems have left the once-great defender living hand to mouth.

Sansom had previously spoken of his troubles with alcohol and gambling in his 2008 autobiography. After retiring, he spent his days in pubs and bookmakers, filling the void with wine and punts.

Graham said he was surprised at Sansom's decline, and appealed to his former player to get help from the PFA before offering his own personal assistance.

He also pointed to the model of former team-mate Tony Adams, who overcame his own alcohol problems and is involved in the 'Sporting Chance' clinic, which helps athletes with personal problems.

"He was a fantastic player under me when I was manager of Arsenal and he has over 80 caps for England," Graham said. "He was a model professional and it is very, very sad to hear that news.

"I am really surprised. I haven’t heard from Kenny for quite a while. I think the last time I saw him was on Sky television, working away. So it comes as big surprise.

"I think he should get in touch with the PFA because they are usually very supportive when players get into problems like Kenny obviously has. I am sure that Gordon Taylor, like he has with many players in the past, will be very willing to help Kenny.

"It seems some people can handle success and some people can't. Tony Adams is connected with the Sporting Chance clinic that helps ex-professionals. If I was Kenny I would get in touch with these people who I am sure will help him get out of the difficulties he finds himself in at present.

"I am sure there will be a lot of people, myself included, who would be willing to help him. But I think he has got to contact these bodies first, the PFA and the other bodies that run football who I am sure would be only too pleased to help him."

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