November 26, 2023

‘I’ve lost in life’: How Lucas Neill went from playing for $76,000 a week to bankruptcy

By Jonathan Drennan
November 26, 2023 — 1.45pm
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Former Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has avoided being jailed for up to three years, after a jury in the UK acquitted him following a seven-year bankruptcy battle.

“I’ve won my freedom, but I feel like I’ve lost in life,” Neill said.

At the height of his fame, Neill played for Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United and Everton in the Premier League, earning up to $76,000 a week.

The Times reported he was acquitted by a jury last week on a charge of failing to disclose an acreage that had been sold and netted £2.1 million ($A4m) into an offshore trust.

The jury took just 26 minutes to acquit Neill of the charges. “Behind my chair in the dock were stairs going to the cells,” he told The Times.

In 2014 Neill retired from international football after then Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou left him out of his World Cup squad. Two years later, Neill was bankrupt after defaulting on a loan for a barn in the UK.

Lucas Neill and Tim Cahill salute the crowd after beating Japan in a World Cup qualifier at the MCG in 2009.Credit: Justin McManus

Neill was asked to declare all of his assets at a meeting with an insolvency service but failed to mention 144 acres that he had purchased beside the barn, believing them to now be repossessed and worthless.

“My head was a mess. I could barely say sentences … I had just written out the whole tragedy of my life, and I was going to face my happy, innocent schoolchildren on a school pick-up – a new school, because we could no longer afford to pay for school fees for their old school,” Neill said.


Neill had been investigated by the UK’s insolvency service for the last seven years, leaving him stuck with bankrupt status and unable to even own a mobile phone on a contract.

The Times reported at the height of Neill’s financial struggles, the lights would go out in his home because he was unable to top up his pay-as-you-go electricity meter.

Australian Test skipper Pat Cummins talks with former Socceroos captain Lucas Neill after day five at Old Trafford.Credit: Nine News

He survived on his monthly £900 ($1700) footballer’s pension while partner Lindsey Morris worked as a beauty therapist and personal trainer to support the family and their two children.

“There were some really humiliating moments,” Neill said. “Like at 7.55am on a school morning, my kids answer the door to bailiffs trying to claim a council tax bill for £400 ($765).”

Neill began his career with his childhood club Manly United, before earning a move to London club Millwall, sharing a changing room with his international teammate Tim Cahill.

Neill was a key part of the Socceroos side that reached the Round of 16 in the 2006 World Cup, giving away a controversial penalty in the final seconds of the game that culminated in a 1-0 defeat to Italy.

Neill also captained his country in the 2010 World Cup, ultimately winning 96 caps in a decorated international career.

Since his retirement from football, Neill has kept a low profile living in Lancashire. However, during the fourth Test of the recent Ashes series, Neill made the short commute from his home to catch up with Australia cricket captain Pat Cummins at Old Trafford.

After his acquittal, Neill will focus on rebuilding his life and it is reported he is coaching women and girls at a local football club while also working as a project manager.


“I don’t care about fame, or luxury. I just want to survive with my family and that’s it. We have our own definition of happiness,” Neill said.

“It might not be your definition, but it’s mine. Would we be happier with more choice? Of course, but we don’t complain. We’ve got each other.”

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Jonathan Drennan is a sports reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.


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