Drug cartels in South America and Europe are recruiting ex-footballers in the United Kingdom to ply their evil trade in the country, as a result of which more and more footballers are ending up in prison.
Ruthless drug barons tempt vulnerable former players with the promise of a lavish lifestyle to compare with any of the game's top stars, and the more concerning factor is that more and more are succumbing to the bait.
Latest figures reveal at least 126 former footballers are behind bars, and 124 of them are under the age of 25.
The shocking statistics have prompted football charity Xpro, set up to look after ex-professionals, to reach out to those already jailed and call on the nation's clubs for swift and dramatic action.
"Drugs are far and away the biggest reason why so many ex-players are now in gaol. Some have been dealing drugs worth millions and have connections with drug cartels in Colombia and Holland," The Sun quoted Xpro chief executive Geoff Scott, as saying.
"They see these dealers driving round in Range Rovers and Q7s and living the high life and, unlike football, there's a very quick and easy way in. But once you are sucked in, it is very hard to escape the clutches of the cartels. We are currently working with one lad who was involved in a drug-smuggling ring and the stories are truly frightening," he added.
Xpro's research shows that the most vulnerable are youngsters who are rejected by clubs before they break into the big time, and are desperate to bank the kind of money they dreamed football would provide and believe crime is the answer. (ANI)