Playing, and often scoring, before tens of thousands of fans is the driving force for every professional footballer, but Keith Gillespie sought his adrenaline kicks elsewhere.
The former Newcastle United winger has written about how he threw away over £7 million in the bookmakers, gambling on any sport which he mistakenly thought he was expert in.
Now aged 38, the ex-Northern Ireland star, who also played for Manchester United at the start of his career, lives in a modest family home with an empty bank account.
Neither the dressing rooms of St James’ Park, nor the dole queue in Bangor, are unfamiliar territories.
Yet for Gillespie, it was simply a fine mess he got himself into and his responsibility to claw himself out of.
This figure alone – £7,215,875 throughout his career – frittered away while waiting for them to weigh in at Newton Abbot, is inconceivable.
Perhaps the most difficult part to understand about his remarkable story is Gillespie’s ability to dissect his addiction, with no shred of emotion.
He shrugs when asked to recall the darkest times, such as blowing £62,000 on bets in the space of two days when aged just 21.
He looks back with round, yet confident eyes when probed over how his family must have reacted when his addiction was splashed across a national tabloid.
“I phoned my mum the night before,” he says.
“She was very disappointed but she’s been a wonderful support.
“Part of it is because, back then, gambling wasn’t seen in the same way as a drug or alcohol addiction. It was fun, and entertainment.
“I knew I was in the public eye but I’m a private kind of guy. Back then, I had nobody to answer to and that suited me. In anyone else’s circumstances, their wife would have intervened, or a brother or friend. Nobody thought I had a problem.”
Even then, one declaration of bankruptcy and a tumble down the divisions which saw him sign for Glentoran in the Irish League later, and Gillespie began to take stock.
Recognising how impossible it would be to ever recover a fraction of his wasted earnings, he has written How Not To Be A Football Millionaire, a candid account of how one man’s thrill of the chase will forever shadow his brilliant career.
“That’s who I will be – the guy who was pretty good at football who had a gambling problem.
“The thing is, I know I’m not alone. Everyone has a mobile phone these days and can place bets immediately.
“There will be other young players out there who are sucked in.
“I truly hope I can be an education for them.”
How Not To Be A Football Millionaire is out now, RRP £16.99