Keith Gillespie Issued Arrest Warrant After Failing to Appear in Court

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2014

BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 19:  Keith Gillespie of Northern Ireland with his hands on his hips during the International Friendly between Northern Ireland and Hungary at Windsor Park on November 19, 2008 in Belfast, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

An arrest warrant was filed against former Manchester United and Newcastle United winger Keith Gillespie for contempt of court on Thursday, a day after he failed to show up for a hearing related to a previous charge.

According to a BBC News report, a judge claims Gillespie's refusal to show up for the court hearing breaches his bail. Gillespie, 39, was due in court amid allegations that he violated a non-molestation order in his native Northern Ireland in January, which forbode him from entering an area in North Down.

A non-molestation order is typically given to women and is meant to protect them against violence or threats from a former partner. It is unclear at this time why Gillespie was in the area of town described. A police officer claims he can place the former Northern Ireland national at the scene—putting him in violation of his probation.

This is just the latest setback in a series of misfortunes for Gillespie in recent years. Despite a two-decade career at high-level club football, Gillespie filed for bankruptcy in 2010, saying he had gone through more than £7 million because of a severe gambling problem. His autobiography, titled How Not To Be A Football Millionaire, was released last year, and he describes the depth of his trouble and the irreparable damage it's had on his personal life. 

“Without a doubt I was a stupid gambler. But then there’s not too many clever gamblers," Gillespie told Jim White of The Telegraph, admitting he had wasted more than £100,000 a day at his low point. "I had a good education, I was brought up well, but once you get caught up in it, it takes the wits out of you."

The talented winger announced his retirement just last year after a short stint with Longford Town in Ireland's top division. A Manchester United youth player, he lasted from 1993-95 with the senior club before bouncing around the Premier League and other levels of English football.

Gillespie's two most memorable stints at the highest level came with Newcastle United from 1995-98 and Blackburn Rovers from 1998-2003. He made 228 league appearances during that nine-year stretch, emerging as a very solid if unspectacular force on the wings. While never much of a goal-scorer, he told The Telegraph that his gambling addiction may have held him back on the field:

Going out and playing 90 minutes was a release. You have these thoughts in your head and the best way to deal with them is kicking a ball around. I remember once at Newcastle, after we’d played Tottenham, Kevin Keegan told me I might well be the best player in the country. And I’d just lost 62 grand in two days.

Gillespie also spent more than a decade on the Northern Irish international team, earning 86 caps. 

He has not yet turned himself over to police. Punishments if found guilty for contempt include possible jail time, a higher bail number or a fine.


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