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From Ronaldinho to Ian Wright, 10 Famous Footballers Who Went To Prison

These footballers spent months and sometimes years in jail.
UPDATED OCT 17, 2023
Benjamin Mendy and Adam Johnson. Getty Images
Benjamin Mendy and Adam Johnson. Getty Images

10 Footballers Who Served Jail Time

Ronaldinho | Getty Images | Lionel Hahn
Ronaldinho | Getty Images | Lionel Hahn

Footballers are international stars with millions of fans across the world. Some of them are worshipped by their followers. However, even the gods can sometimes end up on the wrong side of the law. From ill-fated decisions to far more serious offences, the reasons are plenty. Here are footballers who fell foul of the law and were sent to prison for months and sometimes years.

1. Mason Greenwood

Mason greenwood | Getty Images |  Juan Manuel Serrano Arce
Mason Greenwood | Getty Images | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce

The Manchester United striker's career came to a sudden stop when Greenwood was arrested on suspicion of rape, assault and making death threats. He was arrested after the accuser shared photographs and audio recordings supporting her claims. The player spent three days in custody after which he was released on bail. He then stopped playing and said he would only join after the legal proceedings were over. The maximum life sentence he can face is a lifetime in prison. 

2. Benjamin Mendy

Benjamin Mendy |Getty Images |  Christopher Furlong
Benjamin Mendy |Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

The French footballer was charged with one count of sexual assault and four counts of rape against two women and one of them was only 17 at the time. He denied all the allegations against him and was granted bail on January 22, 2022. A new victim came forward adding to one more count of offence. He served jail time in the Altcourse prison in Liverpool, and also in HMP Manchester or Strangeways. 

3. Ian Wright

Ian Wright | Getty images | Joe Prior
Ian Wright | Getty Images | Joe Prior

One of Arsenal's top players, who currently works as a BBC Sport and ITV Sport pundit, is one of the footballers who went to jail before lifting the Premier League trophy. Wright was arrested when he was only 19 in 1982. He was arrested for failing to pay taxes for his two cars and insurance. He spent two long weeks in Chelmsford Prison. He later said that the time spent in prison helped him change his life for the better.

4. Marlon King 

Marlon King | Getty Images | Julian Finney
Marlon King | Getty Images | Julian Finney

The Jamaican player has been arrested multiple times and received a rehabilitation order. He has paid a lot in for convictions on criminal damage, fraudulent use of vehicles, and licenses, and more offenses like theft. He has served in prison three times till now. He was once sacked from Wigan Athletics after being jailed for assaulting a woman who reportedly rejected his advances. He was also in prison for five months for stealing a £30,000 BMW.

5. Lee Hughes 

Lee Hughes | Wikimedia Commons
Lee Hughes | Wikimedia Commons

The Stourport Swifts striker was in prison for three years in 2004 after being found guilty of causing death because of his reckless driving. His trial lasted only six days and the jury took only 90 minutes to deliver a verdict against him. He rammed a car with his supercharged Mercedes killing a father of four. He was sentenced to six years of jail time but was released after three years. The player had pleaded guilty to not reporting the accident and for not stopping after the crash.

6. Joey Barton

Joey Barton | Getty Images | Matthew Ashton
Joey Barton | Getty Images | Matthew Ashton

Barton currently serves as the manager of the Bristol Rovers and is one of the most popular footballers who have served in prison and whose life has been unfortunately marked by numerous controversies. The Football Association has also charged him with violent conduct thrice. Once for attacking a player and then punching Morten Gamst Pedersen in the stomach. He also assaulted Ousmane Dabo at Manchester City in 2008 during a training-ground dispute that caused him injury. He was sentenced to six months of prison for punching a man 20 times which caused him to faint. 

7. Adam Johnson 

Adam Johnson | Getty Images | Nigel Roddis
Adam Johnson | Getty Images | Nigel Roddis

Adam Johnson was made part of the UEFA Cup when he was only 17 and had a long career ahead of him. However, his career came to an end when he was sentenced to six years in prison after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a child. He allegedly kissed and groomed a 15-year-old who was a fan of his. Later, it was revealed that he was earlier arrested for possession of extreme animal pornography. 

8. Ronaldinho

 Ronaldinho | Getty Images | Manuel Queimadelos
Ronaldinho | Getty Images | Manuel Queimadelos

Surprising? Yes, one of the most famous footballers of his generation, Rohanldinho was sent to prison in 2020 for entering Paraguay with a false passport. The passport, according to ex-barcelona star, was a gift from Brazilian businessman Wilmondes Sousa Lira. After 32 days in prison he along with his brother was kept in a luxury hotel in house arrest. It was later reported that he and his brother had to pay $800,000 each to get bail. 

9. Tony Adams

Tony Adam | Getty Images | Simone Padovani
Tony Adam | Getty Images | Simone Padovani

Tony Adams spent close to two months behind bars in Chelmsford prison in 1990 after he crashed his Ford Sierra into a wall while driving four times over the legal drink-drive limit. He was originally sentenced to four months in prison. However, he was released after 2 months. He is one of the most high-profile alcoholics in the UK and has even written a book about his battle with alcohol. He admitted that he had to put in a lot of effort and that only spending time in prison wasn't enough to keep him away from alcohol.

10. Patrick Kluivert

The retired football icon and manager, who also served as a director of Barcelona’s La Masia Academy and Paris Saint-Germain, received 240 hours of community service after he a borrowed a BMW and crashed it into another car in Amsterdam. The crash killed the driver of the other car and seriously injured a female passenger. He later admitted to speeding and was found guilty. However, he never really received a prison sentence for what happened as he was only 19 at the time.