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Prem star Harry Toffolo reveals he suffered panic attack amid betting charges

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HARRY TOFFOLO has confessed he fell to the floor and suffered a panic attack when he discovered the FA were charging him with historic betting breaches.

The Nottingham Forest left-back feared his Premier League dream was over and confessed: “I was mortified and ashamed.

Harry Toffolo has made 15 appearances for Nottingham Forest this season

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Harry Toffolo has made 15 appearances for Nottingham Forest this seasonCredit: Alamy

“My kids will never forget the day they saw their daddy cry.”

The 28-year-old Forest defender admits he crumbled last April after receiving an e-mail from the FA confirming they were charging him with 375 historic breaches of betting rules.

Toffolo was charged in the same year that Brentford striker Ivan Toney was banned from football for eight months for similar breaches of the FA’s tough betting protocols.

“I felt like I lost everything”, said Toffolo, who was cited over breaches relating to his time as an apprentice with Norwich City, which also took in loan spells at Swindon, Rotherham, Peterborough and Scunthorpe between 2014 and 2017.

“It was 100 per cent the most difficult part of not just my career, but of my life.

“When I got that email sent through from the FA I dropped on the floor and had a full-on panic attack.

“I was mortified and ashamed.

“My kids will never forget the day they saw their daddy cry.”

Toffolo placed 15 bets against his own team at the time, the majority of which were accumulators. 

He also placed two 25p bets on himself to score in the League One play-off final in 2015, which his Swindon team lost 4-0 against Preston.

It was not until he joined Lincoln in 2018 that Toffolo said he became aware that players were forbidden to bet on football and believed betting would help him “fit in” with senior players.

In an interview with BBC East Midlands Today, Toffolo said “it was how football was back then” and claimed many players lacked awareness of football’s issues with gambling.

Fortunately for the Forest defender, unlike Brentford’s Toney who was banned from football for eight months – and Newcastle United‘s Sandro Tonali who was banned for 10 months – the independent commission gave him a second chance.

They took account of the “considerable time” between the breaches and his charges and Toffolo’s show of “genuine remorse.”

They agreed the bets were made at a time when Toffolo’s “mental health was at a very low ebb” and, in September, decided to fine him £21,000 and give him a suspended five-month ban instead of an outright ban.

“That was the light at the end of the tunnel,” Toffolo declared.

“I was in the last year of my contract and I thought the dream I worked so hard to get was over because of what happened six to nine years ago.

“I have a lot of respect for the independent panel for listening to my story and taking everything into account.

“I don’t hold any grudges because I hated everything about that person I was and I didn’t want anything associated with that person.”

Toffolo is now an ambassador for Tricky to Talk – a Forest community project aimed at getting people to talk openly about mental health issues.

“I feel a sense of responsibility now to help and hope it never happens again to anybody else,” he said.

“I feel the most complete I have ever felt in my life at this moment in time, on the basis that I feel I have almost nothing to lose because I thought I had lost everything.”

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