Peter Shilton overcame decades-long gambling addiction with help from wife who likened it to heroin dependancy

Peter Shilton, former AFC Wimbledon and West Ham United player poses for a photo with the FA Cup prior to the FA Cup Fifth Round match between AFC Wimbledon and Millwall at The Cherry Red Records Stadium on February 16, 2019 in Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Peter Shilton has candidly opened up about his decades-long gambling struggles, revealing that it was his wife Steph who helped him to conquer it as she treated his issues as though he had a drink or drug problem.

The former footballer appeared on Good Morning Britain alongside his spouse this morning to discuss his 45-year long gambling addiction that he defeated five years ago.

He told the hosts: "It’s not easy to talk about, it’s difficult for me, but the fact I conquered it five years ago - it changed my life and the way I feel about life and the way I live, with the help of Steph obviously.”

Peter, 70, went on to share that his football career meant he was an "easy target" when it came to falling prey to the addiction.

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He explained: "You do have a lot of spare time on your hands when you finish training. You have to rest, so you can sit there and you get a bit bored and you get a bit of a high. If you had an afternoon free, you would spend most of the afternoon. I was [into] really horse racing. I loved horse racing, I even owned horses.”

Peter Shilton and his wife Steph discussed his gambling addiction on 'Good Morning Britain'. (ITV)

His wife detailed how she had struggled to get him help due to his celebrity status, stating that she became "an investigator" as she tried to gauge the scale of the addiction.

“For me, I separated the gambling from Peter because he’s such a wonderful man," Steph declared. "I looked at it purely clinically. It was an illness. I likened it to heroin and drug addiction. The money fed the addiction.”

Peter, who no longer bets at all, said that by encouraging him to see what he was losing Steph helped him to overcome his troubles - although it was a difficult withdrawal process.

Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Peter Shilton in action during a match from the 1979/80 Season at City Ground, Nottingham. (Photo by Duncan Raban/Allsport/Getty Images)

Steph described her husband as being "irritable and restless" during that period before he finally settled after a year.

Last week, it was reported that the UK government is banning the use of credit cards for gambling in an attempt to curb problem gambling.

The ban, which comes into effect on 14 April, was announced by the Gambling Commission.

Research from the Gambling Commission has shown 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble in the UK and that 22% of online gamblers who use credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers.