Ipswich Town: Jewell reveals Chopra’s gambling ‘illness’

IPSWICH Town manager Paul Jewell says the club is fully behind striker Michael Chopra after revealing the full extent of his gambling addiction.

With his long-standing gambling addiction flaring up once again in Suffolk, the 27-year-old was admitted to the Hampshire-based Sporting Chance Clinic immediately after scoring twice in the 2-1 win over Brighton at the start of this month.

He stayed there for three-weeks – not attending Town training and only being let out to play in the matches against Cardiff, Portsmouth and Crystal Palace – the latter a game for which he was dropped to the bench.

He returned to training at the start of this week though and Jewell, happy with the progress he’s made, says he will ‘definitely’ play in Saturday’s game at Millwall.

“Michael Chopra has got a problem, actually it’s more of a problem – it’s an illness – with gambling,” revealed Jewell.

“There are people in this room, me included, that are no angels. We’ve all been down routes where you think ‘phew’ I’m lucky to have come through that.

“He has a big problem and we knew that when we signed him.

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“Credit to Michael though he’s doing something about it. After the Brighton game he was admitted into the Sporting Chance Clinic, he was there for three weeks and only allowed out to play games - there’s been no training really.

“He scored against Cardiff, played against Portsmouth and didn’t do too well and I just felt it was a step too far to start him against Crystal Palace considering what he’s been going through.

“I’d ask people here to respect the fact that he’s met it head on, he’s trying his best, he’s been as low as he can be, but now he’s feeling great about himself because he knows he’s got the support of the team.

“I would ask – and I’m sure we’d get it – of our great supporters, that they help him through this tough, tough time.

“The more support he gets the better he’ll get quicker. I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but already I can see in his eyes a huge relief.

“He’s opened up his heart, he’s opened up all his problems and he wants to make himself better.

“It’s a sad case, but at the same time it’s heart-warming. It’s not easy when you’re in a male environment having to stand up in front of people and admit that you’re ill.

“You need people around you to help you, we’re there for him, we want supporters to be there for him too but he has to come to the party too and help himself.

“Hopefully he can recover and have a great career at Ipswich.”

– See tomorrow’s Evening Star for full story.