Aston Villa legend makes candid betting revelation amid potential ban for Newcastle United star Sandro Tonali

Gabriel Agbonlahor shared his own betting struggles and suggested that professional footballers are at a higher risk of addiction.
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Aston Villa legend Gabriel Agbonlahor has suggested that professional footballers struggling with betting problems are much more common than people realise as he opened up about his own past.

The former striker, who made 391 appearances for the Villains, spoke about gambling on talkSPORT after news that Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali is under investigation by the Italian Prosecutor's Office and the Italian football federation in relation to alleged illegal betting activity.

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The Magpies man, who scored after just six minutes against Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, left Italy's international camp last week because of the inquiry. It is reported in Italy that Tonali is believed to have gambled on matches involving Brescia and AC Milan while a player at both clubs. Aston Villa loanee Nicolo Zaniolo is also ebmroiled in the fiasco and left the Italy squad with Tonali last week.

Agbonlahor sympathised with Newcastle United's £52 million summer signing, suggesting that professional footballers are left at risk of gambling addictions due to the nature of the profession. Opening up about his own struggles, the pundit said: "It wasn't about winning money, I was earning good money at Aston Villa at the time, it was more about being single, no kids, living with a couple of friends, coming back from training. We used to finish quite early with Martin O'Neil, finish at 12:30, 12:45, coming home and being bored.

"You'd get your laptop, play your poker online then you might go to the casino in the evenings and before you know it you're in Palm Beach casino playing poker with the big dogs. It becomes an addiction. It happened to a lot of players in the club. For me it was never betting on football, it was more the poker."

Earlier this year, Brentford striker Ivan Toney was banned for eight months by the FA after admitting 232 breaches of gambling rules. How any potential ban for Tonali may compare remains to be seen with the FA waiting for the outcome of the Italian investigation before commenting further.

Sandro Tonali started his Newcastle United career with a goal against Aston Villa (Image: Getty Images)Sandro Tonali started his Newcastle United career with a goal against Aston Villa (Image: Getty Images)
Sandro Tonali started his Newcastle United career with a goal against Aston Villa (Image: Getty Images)
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Newcastle United shared a statement on the investigation on Wednesday. It read: "Newcastle United can confirm that Sandro Tonali is subject to investigation by the Italian Prosecutor's Office and Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in relation to illegal betting activity. Sandro is fully engaging with the investigation and will continue to cooperate with all relevant authorities.

"He and his family will continue to receive the club's full support. Due to this ongoing process, Sandro and Newcastle United are unable to offer further comment at this time."

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