A legendary England footballer is lobbying MPs to put pressure on the Government to reform the betting industry.

Peter Shilton, who lives in Mersea Island with his wife, Steph, was capped 125 times for England throughout his career – but became so addicted to gambling that it almost ruined his life.

The former England international wrote a book called Saved, explaining his ongoing recovey from his addition.

Mr and Mrs Shilton are supporting the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group in an effort to curb the powers of betting companies and were guest speakers at the Gambling Reform Rally at Westminster.

Mr Shilton felt it was no coincidence that the number of gambling addicts was rising alongside the number of suicides each year.

He said: “Since 2005, the gambling industry has had carte blanche to do what they want, and football is the biggest single thing people bet on now.

“The amount of betting adverts you see on football shirts and around football grounds is the backdoor for gambling companies to get through to kids and the next generation of gamblers.

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“Football needs to clean its act up, and the betting industry needs drastic reform to safeguard people and fans.”

He added: “The number of addicts every year is going up, and 65,000 kids in the UK are getting involved in betting every year – the numbers are rising and so are the numbers of suicides.”

Steph urged MPs throughout Essex to get on board with the campaign and support the White Paper which is to be submitted to the House of Commons next month.

The paper is intended to reform the Gambling Act 2005, which Mr Shilton described as being “not fit for purpose,” with Mrs Shilton adding betting has changed significantly in the past 16 years.

She said: “The free bets companies offer, the apps on smartphones, the constant ads on TV – we’ve had hundreds of people come forward with concerns about their loved ones [and their problems with gambling.]”

Letters to MPs about the issue can be submitted via cleanupgambling.com/lobby.