A few people have asked me who the central characters in Off The Chest are. Here is a brief description although the clues are located within the book.
This player played for his country (not England - the details were changed) over 30 times. The scam involving the yellow cards and being booked on purpose is real and was executed somewhere around 2005. the bookmakers involved are alleged to have allowed the bets due to wanting continued action. Loved a bet more than life itself.
Simmo: Centre back who did play for England. He is described as a leader in any dressing room and has control over the players. A friendly guy amongst close friends, he is not the nicest of people to those who don't know him. He has cheated on his wife over 100 times. Likes a bet but is more interested in other things - namely getting his end away.
Wheezy: This player in real life is actually white. Known gambler and went on to do worse things than detailed in Off The Chest. An impressionable chap, he was never a star but loved living the high life, which gambling brings, on occasion. This guy was deceptively fast but is sometimes extremely ineffective as seen by his wayward assist rate.
Hollow: This player actually moved abroad but this wasn't detailed in Off The chest. He is rumoured to be getting up to no good. it appears that once he got the taste for it, there was no turning back. Hollow is probably the most skilled match-fixer of the bunch. He controlled the fix in the famous match but you'd never know. He put a few players under pressure and gave away one corner that could have been prevented but never looked to be playing badly. a real professional.
Darren: I can't say too much about this guy. A bookmaker (the name was changed in Off The Chest). He took bets from footballers regularly. The stories he knows could fill five books but he's not talking.
Cedric: For safety reasons, I am not saying any more. A crazy man but it is clear he is not the ring leader as he initially made out.
The author now wishes to educate on the dangers of gambling within footballing circles. Only recently Andros Townsend has been punished for betting. There is talk of a gambling addiction and even some rumours of match-fixing. I don't know about that but I can say, as a footballer, once you place your first bet, it's a downward spiral. Betting is greed - wanting more - either money, or excitement. As a footballer, you have both already in spades. Therefore, the decision to gamble extortionate amounts of money stems from the fact that you are not happy with what you have got. This malady is not helped by gambling. It simply drags you further down.
I hope other footballers read this as it might save one career.