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BBC Richard Osman’s House of Games: David James’ life from leaving wife for childhood sweetheart to bankruptcy

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David James is best known for his time spent as a professional footballer for 16 years – most famously when he made 53 appearances as England’s goalkeeper between 1997 and 2010. He has also played for Premier League teams including Liverpool, West Ham, Man City and Aston Villa – and has appeared on a number of celebrity shows including BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Tonight (February 14), and for the rest of the week, he will put his general knowledge and critical thinking skills to the test as he appears on BBC Two show Richard Osman’s House of Games alongside Denise Lewis, Rhys James and Isy Suttie. But what about the star’s life away from the football pitch? From divorcing the mum of his four children to marrying his childhood sweetheart, it’s been a relatively bumpy ride.

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James was brought up in Welwyn Garden City but spent part of his childhood in Jamaica. He has four children and two ex-wives and has been linked to several other soap stars and reality TV personalities. The former England goalkeeper split from his first wife Tanya in 2005, reportedly paying her £3 million following a nasty divorce battle.

David later rekindled his relationship with old flame and childhood sweetheart Amanda Salmon, before moving down to Devon to live with her and her two children. The couple tied the knot soon after but it wasn’t to last. They split up after he was linked to Hollyoaks actress Claire Cooper in 2009.

Tanya and David’s marriage did not end on good terms, Hello! reports. Speaking during their divorce battle, she said: “I didn’t expect all this to happen. I thought we’d be together for the rest of our lives. Now that it has, I must say I’m glad. He’s done me a favour. I didn’t realise just how bad the marriage was until he left.”

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Despite becoming a multi-millionaire from his footballing career, and owning several properties and modelling contracts, James declared himself bankrupt in May 2014, after racking up debts that had built up since his first divorce. At the height of his success, he was earning £50,000-a-week, reported The Mirror.

Six months after declaring bankruptcy, he sold hundreds of items of football memorabilia collected during his career to pay off the debts. This included 150 signed shirts, shorts and match balls as well as his customised Vauxhall Astra van.

Though the divorce was likely the reason he became bankrupt, in a 2004 autobiography, his former Liverpool teammate Stan Collymore described James’ shocking spending habits when they lived together in 1995.

“If he had a new car and he pranged it, he would just go and buy a new car – so there were five cars parked in the drive,” he explained.

“If he bought a new pair of shoes and he scuffed them, he wouldn’t clean them. He would just chuck them in the spare room and buy a new pair. Too much disposable income, I suppose. Too easy just to bin stuff. Too easy to spend money like you’re going to be earning that kind of money for the rest of your life.”

Among other charitable endeavours, before his bankruptcy, he established his own foundation to sponsor projects in Malawi and it is reported that he put a lot of his own wealth into the charity.

Away from football, James took part in the 2019 series of Strictly Come Dancing but was eliminated in week four of the competition.

Richard Osman’s House of Games airs on weekdays at 6pm on BBC Two.

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I’m Sam, a News Reporter at MyLondon with a special interest in covering court and crime. I started in September 2021, and I’m based in Ealing. You can follow my Facebook page here.

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