Hammer time: George Parris celebrates a goal during his Upton Park playing days
The 46-year-old - who began his career at Upton Park in 1982 and made more than 200 appearances for the Hammers in an 11-year spell at Upton Park - is now well on the road to recovery after fighting a long battle that began when he moved to Birmingham in 1993.
But Parris admits he considered suicide after his addiction and mounting debts spiralled out of control in the late 90s. After another large bet on the horses lost, he walked out of a bookies in Sussex, where he still lives, and seriously considered ending it all.
He reveals: 'I drove up to Newhaven. I can remember looking out over the bridge there and thinking 'what do I do?'
'I couldn't see how I was going to get myself out of the big hole I was in. I'd begged and borrowed from everyone I knew and, yes, I did give serious thought to killing myself.
'I owed money to my closest friends and family and had nowhere else to go. But, thankfully, I pulled myself together and went home and confessed to my then wife that I'd lost every penny I had gambling.'
After attempting to confront his issue, Parris managed to take some steps on the road to recovery but, five years later, relapsed and hit an all-time low point.
'Desperate to have one more bet, I withdrew all the money from my young son's building society account. The bet lost, and it was the worst example of how my gambling had gripped me. I still live with the hurt of what I did,' said a tearful and remorseful Parris, who still attends regular counselling sessions at the Sporting Chance clinic founded by Tony Adams.
As part of his continuing rehabilitation, Parris has now decided totell his amazing story in a new double DVD, produced by the publishersof retro West Ham magazine EX as, with remarkable honesty, he faces up to his demons and talks openly and from the heart about his gambling addiction.
In the four-hour production, Parris also provides an insight into hisplaying career in which he made 364 League appearances from 1985 untilhis unhappy farewell at Brighton & Hove Albion in 1997 . . .including the card schools, where he got his first 'buzz' fromgambling; what it was like playing for the Hammers' most successfulteam ever; and his thoughts on those he played with and for.
Parris will be signing copies of his new DVD when it is launched at the EX Magazine West Ham Retro Forum & Fair in Romford, Essex on Sunday.
To order the DVD direct at the discounted price of £14.00, simply visit the Ex Magazine websiteAlternatively, telephone the Credit/Debit Card Hotline on 01708 744 333.
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