ENGLAND football legend Peter Shilton has hailed his wife’s role in helping him move on from a 45-year gambling addiction.

The sporting hero, who lives with his wife Steph on Mersea Island, has since released a book amid efforts to raise awareness of the destruction caused by the addiction.

Former goalkeeper Shilton, 72, who remains England’s most capped player, beat his addiction in 2015 and has spent the years since campaigning.

Speaking on Sky News on Thursday morning, Shilton admitted it was a “very, very long time” before he realised he had an addiction.

“I realised I was wasting so much time on gambling and getting nothing out of it,” he said.

Gazette: All smiles - the pair on a golf dayAll smiles - the pair on a golf day

“You want to keep it secret all the time, so it’s not an addiction that’s easy to spot sometimes until it’s too late and the money is all gone.

“Steph had 20 years in the NHS and she knew how to get me out of my addiction which was a massive thing. It was the best thing I ever did.”

Loving wife Steph, whose role has been hailed by Shilton, explained she didn’t want to put pressure on her husband in fear of hindering his recovery.

She said: “Very early on in the relationship when you’re faced with a gambling addict you do pick up the signs – the disappearing with his phone, you’re watching some suspicious behaviour.

“It becomes like a game of cat and mouse where you’re sneaking around trying to find evidence to back your suspicions and they’re trying to hide it from you.”

The couple’s book, Saved: Overcoming a 45-year Gambling Addiction, was released in September with a vow to shine a light on “football’s obsession with gambling”.

Accompanied by a foreword by former player and TV presenter Gary Lineker, it explores the secrecy and shame of Shilton’s 45 year battle with gambling, which almost destroyed his relationships and his mental health.

The book’s Amazon listing reads: “A gambling habit forged in his playing days soon spiralled into a gambling addiction: a silent, self-destructive and ruinous obsession that destroyed relationships, his mental health and very nearly himself”.