BANKRUPT ex-footie star Jermaine Pennant has told how he lost his career earnings of more than £10million — and got in such a mess he even forgot he owned a house.
But the 39-year-old, who describes himself as “financially illiterate”, also blew a fortune on bad investments and fell prey to hangers-on he says targeted him.
And he went on to lose three houses and more money through a divorce and bankruptcy,
He said: “In all honesty, I could have been a billionaire and still f***ed it up.
“I have made so many mistakes but I did not know how to deal with things and would not think of the consequences of my actions.
“I have been labelled a bad-boy but, in reality, I was just an insecure kid who did not know what he was doing.”
His ADHD meant he once forgot he owned a house in Cheshire after moving from Liverpool to Spanish side Real Zaragoza — although he was still paying the interest-only mortgage on it.
He bought the six-bedroom home in Hale for £1.2million on the advice of a fixer.
Pennant — now a footie pundit on talkSPORT — admitted: ☻“I bought houses but never spoke to an estate agent and had mortgages that I did not know about.
“I took bad advice from bad people and just lived day to day.
“There was a fixer who arranged things for me — but now I realise he swindled me out of money.
“He advised me to buy the house in Hale for well over the odds and then to do a load of building work on it. But I wasn’t paying the builders, I was paying him.
“That sort of thing happened to me wherever I went.
“I would also go out and spend money on tables at nightclubs and not worry about it.
“We did two trips to Las Vegas; and on the first one I picked up a bar bill of $30,000 (£25,000) for my mates — I did not even know what was being ordered.
“I invested in horses and properties and have lost all the money.
“I dread to think what the total would be but I guess it would be more than £10million.”
Years of financial misjudgments and mistakes eventually caught up with the ex-Premier League star.
The tipping point came when the taxman hit him with a bill for more than £1million in 2018.
He was declared bankrupt at the start of this year with debts of more than £1million.
Pennant, who starred on Celebrity Big Brother in 2018, said: “The bankruptcy did not happen overnight. It came from years of bad decisions and ignoring things.
“We disputed the tax bill and I still do not know what it is for.
“But that is the thing that led to the bankruptcy more than anything else. I had no idea what I was earning and what was coming out of my account.
“Because of my ADHD, I would just ignore things and bury my head in the sand, even forgetting I owned a house.”
But Pennant, who lives with actress girlfriend Jess Impiazzi, 33, in Surrey, insisted he was “happier than ever” after his bankruptcy and looking to the future.
He continued: “It is not an ideal situation being made bankrupt — but it means I can rebuild my life and make a fresh start.”
He said he regretted his past behaviour and urged young players not to make the same mistakes as he did, but to take sound advice and avoid the pitfalls of fame.
Pennant, who has a 12-year-old son by an ex and was married to model Alice Goodwin from 2014 to 2020, once owned motors including a Ferrari F430, an Aston Martin DB9, a Lamborghini, a Porsche GTS and several Range Rovers.
He enjoyed luxury holidays at destinations including the Maldives, Bahamas, Seychelles and Dubai.
The Nottingham-born ace’s career took off when Arsenal signed him from Notts County when he was 15.
He scored a hat-trick on his full Premier League debut for the Gunners aged 20 — but he later admitted he was hungover after going out the night before the match as he did not expect to be picked.
But despite a promising start, he was shipped out on loan to various clubs before joining Birmingham City in 2005.
While at the Blues, he was jailed for drink-driving after crashing a Mercedes into a lamppost — when he was already banned from the road for the same offence. But Birmingham stuck by him, and Pennant revealed manager Steve Bruce, whom team-mates dubbed his “stepdad”, visited him in category A Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes as he served his sentence.
After his release, he played with an electronic tag fitted to his ankle.
He earned a big-money move to Liverpool where he played a key role in their run to the 2007 Champions League final, which they lost to AC Milan.
After falling foul of boss Rafa Benitez, he joined Real Zaragoza on wages of £80,000 a week but only stayed at the club for a year.
Pennant, who earned £30,000 a week at Liverpool, again hit headlines when he left his Porsche at a rail station in Spain for a month because he forgot about it.
The England under-21 star then joined Stoke City. Spells at Wolves, FC Pune City in India, Wigan Athletic, Singapore side Tampines Rovers and Bury followed — before he ended his career at non-league Billericay Town in 2017.
He explained: “I came from a rough council estate and became a ‘wonderkid’ when I was 15. I had no education really and knew nothing about finances and money.
“No one at Arsenal helped me — they just stuck me in digs with a family. I would go training, go home and then be left to my own devices and hangers-on.
“I developed an ego and had no self-worth so tried to gain it by showing I had money.”
He admitted his biggest regret was his drink-driving conviction, which led to him being locked up alongside murderers and terrorists.
Pennant also said he regrets revealing in his 2018 autobiography that he and former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, 42, had threesomes with girls.
He said: “The thing I am most ashamed of is the drink-driving.
“I also regret what I said in the book — and regret writing it. It was another case of taking bad advice, and of not thinking of the consequences because of ADHD.
“My agent Sky Andrew suffered during these periods because he was trying to make me listen to good advice but I was on the fast train to destruction”.
“I thought everything would be OK but Ashley was not happy although we are still friends now.
“I also regret going on Big Brother and don’t think that was a great decision for me.”
He added: “I would do things without discussing it with anyone, I would hide stuff from my agent who was constantly getting me out of trouble.
“Maybe the fact that Sky kept finding a way sort things out helped me think I was invincible.”
However, Pennant will this year be seen on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins alongside ex-Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He concluded: “If I could say one thing to young players, it would be: Make sure you get help, good advice and are surrounded by decent people.”