Who knows what lies behind the mask: the strange case of Teddy Sherringham

by Tony Attwood

Who knows what lies behind the mask

What do players do when they retire?  Apart from making idiots of themselves on the media, where can they go?  What will Henry do when it is all over?  Come to that what is Bergkamp doing apart from painting the walls of his houses in just a perfect shade of white…

It is not as if they can turn to another sport where age is less of a barrier.  Even in an earlier world when cricketers played football, and vice versa, the ability to get it right in more than one sport was rare.  We remember Andy Ducat from the Woolwich Arsenal days, and Dennis Compton too, but few others.

So here’s an oddity: players who have actually moved from football into card playing.  And before you say Paul Merson, let me say that I am not thinking about people who get hooked on gambling (and we all know about Paul’s fight against his demons) but professional card players who make a living from the game.

Now from this point on this is going to be something of an unusual story – but stay with me, because it does have its moments.

Part one of the strangeness is that I am going to write about Teddy Sheringham – not the sort of topic that one might normally cover here (at least without a range of sarcastic overtones and general derisory whatnot), but it turns out the old fellow has an interesting second side to his personality.  Part two of the strangeness is that this is about poker.

Sheringham, you will recall, played for Millwall,  Nottingham Forest, some club I won’t mention from the dirty end of the Seven Sisters Road, and then another bunch up north who are currently having a spot of difficulty with their centre forward who doesn’t like them any more.  Except maybe he does.

Anyway, he moved on, as players do, going back to the Tiny Totts, before playing for Portsmouth, West Ham and Colchester.  He was notable for playing professionally into his forties.  He also got an MBE.

And then came poker playing.

Sheringham, it seems, began his poker playing career much like many amateurs, playing either in games with coaches or in back room poker games.  Apparently he also spent time looking up Texas Hold em poker websites for cash games online.

Reports suggest that over time he “honed his skills” (as they say) and started playing in live casinos and eventually some professional tournaments.

Now I picked up on this when Sheringham was featured on the Poker Million on Sky Sports in 2008.  I am not a card playing or gambling man, but I was just bemused to see this guy to whom I had given my share of abuse over the years, actually transformed into something utterly different.

Apparently he finished 2nd in a charity event at the EPT Grand Final in 2009.  Then he went on to the 2009 WSOP Europe and that, according to reports, is when he started to become a big time player.

The World Series of Poker Europe is an extension of the World Series of Poker held every summer in Las Vegas, NV.  Professionals, and Ultimate Bet amateurs, from all over the world and Europe turn out for this event that awards the same gold bracelets as the events in Las Vegas.

Sherringham put up the £10,000 buy-in and took his shot at £801,603.  All of the big names of poker were in this event that paid only 36 out of 334 players.  Sheringham would eventually make the money of this event and finished 14th in the event, outlasting pros David “DevilFish” Ulliott, Men “The Master” Nguyen, and 10-time WSOP bracelet winner Doyle Brunson.  While Sheringham’s £40,481 was well short of the £801,603 top prize, it put the poker world on notice that he had game.

Sheringham has also proven to be a force on the European Poker Tour.  So far, he has three EPT cashes, including a recent final table at the EPT Vilamoura.  He finished 5th in the event and took home €93,121 in prize money.

And now the really extraordinary bit.  Sheringham has a grand total of $259,272 in career tournament earnings as a professional poker player.  He also ranks 181st on the England All-Time money list for poker.  Quite an accomplishment for someone really just getting started in the game and who spent his time playing for clubs like Tottenham and Man U.

Teddy Sheringham has taken his game from the pitch to the felts of the poker world.  Of course online Texas Hold’em poker site feature virtual felt, so you can say he went from he pitch to the computer screen online.  While he may not compete in front of 100,000 screaming fans, he has begun to make his name in a sport that has taken the world by storm.

So what’s my point?  Well, nothing much – except it just goes to show that watching a player on pitch never really gives a total insight into what the player is like underneath.  Quite probably in the current Arsenal team we have a player who will go on to write a novel that will win the Booker Prize, and another who will play devote his retirement years to working for the homeless.  Who knows?

Untold Arsenal: The Index

Woolwich Arsenal: the end of the line

13 Replies to “Who knows what lies behind the mask: the strange case of Teddy Sherringham”

  1. I was at an exhibition at the Emirates last week and as I walked away from the stadium to Arsenal tube station after the event I saw Charlie George going the other way. He was obviously “going to work” as he is a stadium tour guide.

    It got me thinking that there are a load of players like Charlie who were idolised by the fans but were too early to earn big bucks in the Premier League. Players that have subsequently been held in the same high esteem as Charlie have included Bergkamp, Henry & Fabregas. Can you imagine any of them in 30 years time conducting a group of fans around the Emirates?

  2. I lived in South London not far from The Den when Sheringham played for Millwall.

    All the talk was of him when the fans flooded down our street after matches, he was a phenomenon even then.

    Much later, when he was instrumental in Man Utd’s victory over Bayern in the CL, he also proved useful in a dispute I was having with an Australian house-guest. Said guest did not believe there was a phrase in English, “to get the hump” with someone. He thought it so ridiculous that he did not believe me when I said it was a well-known English phrase.

    The following day, the Evening Standard published a report of the game, which included a quote from Sheringham saying that the reason he scored when coming on as a sub for United was that the Bayern players’ premature celebrations of what they thought was their impeding victory had given Teddy “the hump”. I showed the article to our house-guest, and he conceded defeat.

    So Teddy Sheringham not only wins at poker and football, he wins at linguistics!

    This is why Private Eye always referred to him, quite rightly IMHO, as “Prince Edward of Sheringham”. The man is one of life’s natural aristocrats.

  3. He also admitted to having a genuine hatred of Arsenal FC, so he can fuck off and shove his cards up his arse whilst he’s at it.


  4. Yes Jonny, all very well, but I was trying to make a broader point here about what players do when it is all over. Imagine Gazza – I was at Wembley when he scored that semi final goal against us, and I hated him as much as anyone – but in I feel sorry to see a man who had such natural talent crumbling to ruin. What is it now, several drink drivings, class A drugs…

    Somehow, irrespective of the money, some players have a way to find a new life, and some don’t.

    The Arsenal players of the 1930s who were absolute Gods and Heros, often ended up selling newspapers outside the ground where they were previously idolised. How on earth do you ever adjust to that?

    (On the other hand none of this is stopping me working on the Diary of Arry, which will be launched on Untold in the near future).

  5. The Diary of ‘Arry… oh dear god – looking forward to that one – BTW, I could give you some very interesting input into that Tony with regards to a cozy relationship ‘Onest ‘Arry has with a certain referee… or the £20,000,000 placed in bets in one season, or indeed the 1000 strong+ housing empire he has somehow acrewed on a managers salary.

    We are still talking about the same ‘Arry aren’t we?!

    Bung… bung… bung…


  6. Jonny is right: Sheringham is scum, and not just because he was also Scum. And as for the Booker, as Nick Hornby would say, “The Booker Prize? The Booker Prize?!? They should give me that just for reading you!” Chuckle chuckle.

  7. Great article Tony,

    Could be a sense of some extreme athlete’s who have done well in their sport because of a great mind. Maybe, there is something to a balanced athlete… Meaning while some athletes are immense in their athleticism alone maybe not enough credit is given to a player who has both a great mind and physical prowess? All in all I bet the fact that after football the players who do well after that the reason is logical. And, I don’t know Teddy’s background. But, if I were to speculate first he is and was a complete competitor. Meaning he could not rest in life he was competing. So he must have had some compulsion or hobby in Poker. Naturally gifted to compete and a love for Poker he is doing well. Probably not so at first but with his work ethic he rose and competes to win. And, so it is so! Gazza on the other hand is probably a completely logical case as well I will leave you all to fill in the blanks..
    A final note maybe overlooked is the managers who had an excellent football career and now contribute to excellent footballing and we know those names. It is a conundrum why some footballers continue in excellence outside of football or is it? I suspect if we all practiced on the pitch with these special athletes we could predict who would succeed outside of football and who would not.

  8. This is something I’d expect to read on a Tottenham or Man Utd blog, but on an Arsenal blog (and admittedly one of the best ones)?!

    No offense to Tony or the other writers here at Untold Arsenal though, but reading about Sheringham somehow just makes me sick to the stomach…

    Keep up the work though, Tony&Co, every single article I’ve read on this site so far (apart from this one) has been absolutely top notch!!!

  9. PS: Don’t know why I’ve got this angry avatar in front of my name! I’m one of the most lenient and calm guys you’ll ever come across 🙂

    It’s just that when I read “non-hatred” articles about anti-Arsenal people, it somehow twists my nerves… Hopefully my ‘bad’ response wasn’t the reason for the angry avatar 😉

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