Lucrative contracts in sport are incredibly difficult to earn, with only the best in their field winning the huge paydays that so many athletes crave.
But as difficult as it is to get to the top of the money tree, it’s just as easy to crash back down.
Daily Mail Australia takes a look at the Australian athletes who lost their millions and how they turned their lives around.
Carlton hero Brendan Fevola has a four-word explanation as to how he came to lose his millions earnt as a footy player.
‘I was a bogan.’
Carlton cult hero Brendan Fevola struggled to retain his huge career earnings
He recently admitted that ‘living like a bogan’ saw him lose all his money
The 42-year-old has spoken openly about his personal issues since retiring from the AFL, in which gambling caused him to throw away his earnings.
‘I did it. I earned millions. Millions. And I lost it all because I was a bogan,’ he said.
‘I pretty much wasted it all. We had seven houses throughout my footy career. Lost it all because I punted.
‘Bang. Stupid. Because I had money from the age of 17. Big money. Everyone else was working hard for their money. I didn’t have to work hard. I just played footy. I just thought money would come easy. Winning the lotto – easy money. Let’s spend it.’
Fevola ended up going on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here to help recoup his losses, but said his appearance on the show was a low moment.
‘You get money, you lose it all and then you end up on a stupid show like Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. That’s what happens,’
Former Socceroos captain and Premier League star reportedly made close to $40million during his illustrious football career, but was declared bankrupt in Britain in 2016.
At the pomp of his career, Neill reportedly earnt $5million a year during his time at West Ham United.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Neill was heavily involved in the original bid for a western Sydney A-League club, with his business partner and then manager, Paddy Dominguez, which finally fell through.
Former Premier League and Socceroos star Lucas Neill was declared bankrupt
However, a potential deal was thrown into controversy when Sydney bagman Michael McGurk was shot and killed, and it was revealed he had connections to Neill’s bid.
Dominguez said at the time that there was no connection between the two, and that Neill had only asked McGurk to act as a middle man to help obtain more investment.
Since missing out on the Socceroos’ World Cup 2014 squad, he has largely kept his distance from football. He now lives in Lancashire with his wife and two kids, and coaches his son Marcus’ junior cricket team at local club Lowerhouse.
Most Australian sports fans are all too familiar with Ben Cousins’ story. The 2005 Brownlow Medalist has hit the lowest of lows owing to his addiction to ice, cocaine and pills.
The West Coast legend spent a stint in jail in 2018 in relation to a number of offences related to drugs, violence and stalking.
In 2016, Cousins admitted he was having ‘a bit of a tough time’ after finding himself sitting alone outside a Perth police station – at a loss as who he should call to come and collect him following a two-day stint in custody.
His struggle with drug addiction resulted in him losing five properties as well as his fortune.
Ben Cousins’s trouble with drugs is well-documented but he has turned his life around
‘It’s hard to know where to go to. I am living out of a backpack at the moment,’ he told News Corp.
That spell in prison was the catalyst that inspired Cousins to turn his life around and he has since carved out a career in the media with Channel Seven.
After leaving jail, he returned to playing park football, re-established good relationships with his two young children and within a year was back on the red carpet attending AFL functions.
He was at this year’s Brownlow night, the first time since he won the award 18 years ago that he attended the event.
Owen Craigie, a teenage NRL prodigy, turned to drugs, alcohol and gambling, and believes he lost approximately $2million in the process.
Craigie burst onto the scene at 17, signing for the Newcastle Knights on a $200,000 a year contract. He swiftly purchased a house, but this prudent financial decision-making fell to the grip of addiction after his retirement in 2005.
‘I was a menace … I was living life in the fast lane 24/7,’ he said via SBS.
Owen Craigie was a teen NRL prodigy but struggled with mental health problems
‘The people I loved the most are the people I pushed away.
‘When I needed help for my mental health, my addictions, nine out of 10 people ran – they ran for the hills.
‘My wife left. She had every reason to leave – I put her through hell.’
Craigie has since turned his hardship into happiness. After a stint in rehabilitation, he now has regular contact with his children and is working on a number of business ventures.
Modern day football fans will recognise Mark Bosnich as the affable former Socceroo who provides excellent analysis in his handful of punditry roles.
But some may not be aware that the ex-goalkeeper had something of a turbulent time away from the pitch during his playing days.
Bosnich was sacked by Chelsea in 2002 after failing a drugs test and later revealed he had a cocaine problem, which caused a five-year absence from the sport. John Terry had warned the Aussie of the dangers of falling in with the wrong crowd but ignored him as he felt ‘bulletproof’.
Mark Bosnich was sacked by Chelsea for drug abuse and was declared bankrupt in 2008
His career spiralled into drug abuse, depression and tabloid tales of sex romps.
In 2008, Bosnich was declared bankrupt by a London high court, with friends telling The Sun that the former Man United star who once earned $87,000 a week, had ‘hit rock bottom’ and ‘hasn’t a penny to his name.’
He strenuously denied the ruling, insisting: ‘I am not insolvent.
‘I have been in contact with my lawyers and it relates to a small debt (court costs). Just a few thousand dollars.
‘I left things in people’s hands (before I left England),’ he said.
Aussie tennis hero Mark Phillippoussis once soared as high as No 8 in the world rankings, earning close to $7million throughout his career.
However, a ‘ridiculous’ lifestyle in which he spent huge amounts of money out of boredom saw him purchase a legion of flashy sports cars as well as roughly 15 motorbikes.
He even paid $100,000 for a brand new Dodge Viper because he didn’t want to get a taxi home, and sold the car the very next day.
Mark Philippoussis said he spent money without even thinking twice. He was declared bankrupt in 2009
His extravagant spending finally caught up with him in 2009 when he was served with a bankruptcy notice as he could not afford to pay off the mortgage of a Townsville property he owned.
‘When you’re an athlete, the last thing you want to think about … They always say, ‘Save for a rainy day’. And I feel like you’re weak if you feel like you might get injured and you have to have something to back up to — that’s a sign of weakness,’ he said on SAS Australia in 2021.
‘You can’t think that way because you’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to get back from injuries and you’re going to be OK.
‘I was out for a few months. I couldn’t afford much, actually. I had to ask friends just to shop for food.
‘We would always, just, for seven days in a row we’d have this cabbage pasta that ends up being one of my favourites but my mum calls it ‘poor people’s food’ because it’s so simple, it’s just cabbage with some spices and pasta.
‘I felt very much ashamed because they gave their dream for me and my responsibility was to look after them. I was in a dark place and had depression. There’s no greater pain in my heart than watching my loved ones suffer because of my actions.’