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10 Players Who Battled With Drugs & Alcohol

They are heroes on the field, inspiring youngsters and exciting crowds, but sometimes there is a dark secret behind their smile. Here are 10 famous footballers who battled with substance abuse, including one of Mzansi's most high-profile legends.

Click through the gallery to see 10 famous players who struggled with drugs and alcohol.

For some players, indulging in drugs and alcohol could very well be a once-off, but it is a slippery slope for others, who sadly carried that monkey on their backs for most of their professional careers.

When we reminisce about Diego Maradona's playing career, it is sometimes his controversial private life that gets spoken of more than his incredible and unique style of play. Still considered by many to be one of the greatest players ever, he tested positive for cocaine for the first time in 1991, for which he was slapped with a 15-month ban, and is believed to have only overcome his drug issues in 2005.

Brazil icon Garrincha passed away at just 49 years old, after a long and tragic battle with alcohol. The late winger, who won both the 1958 and 1962 FIFA World Cups with the Selecao, died of liver disease that was caused by years of liquor abuse.

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In 1996, former Arsenal captain Tony Adams admitted to being an alcoholic, and sought help for his addiction. After a 10-year struggle, the ex-England centre-back managed to turn things around, and continued playing until 2002.

Former Brazil striker Adriano, who once appeared to be the heir to Ronaldo Nazario's throne, also succumbed to the party lifestyle, which resulted in his career plummeting from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

In South Africa, we sadly witnessed a similar story with retired Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana player Jabu Mahlangu (formerly Pule), who has often spoken honestly and openly about his old habits. Years ago, he admitted to not knowing just how big his name was in the sport, despite being on top of his game.

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Many more have unfortunately suffered – click through the gallery above to see 10 players who struggled with substance abuse.

Which of these footballers did you enjoy watching in their prime? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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