Harry Toffolo: Nottingham Forest defender feared betting charges would end career

Harry Toffolo in action for Nottingham Forest
Harry Toffolo has made 36 appearances for Nottingham Forest since joining them in the summer of 2022

Nottingham Forest’s Harry Toffolo says he feared his career had been ended by his history of betting and that it “inspired” him to help others with gambling and mental health problems.

The 28-year-old defender was given a suspended five-month ban in September for 375 breaches of betting rules.


The independent commission that heard the case found bets were made when his “mental health was at a very low ebb”.

“I felt like I lost everything”, said Toffolo when reflecting on the charges.

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

“It scares me because I was in the last year of my contract and I thought the dream I worked so hard to get was over.

“I was thinking my career is going to be over because of what happened six to nine years ago, which came back to sting me.”

Toffolo said the decision of the Football Association’s independent regulatory commission to hand him a fine of almost £21,000 and a suspended ban was “the light at the end of the tunnel” after five months of uncertainty.

“When I got that email sent through from the FA [outlining breaches], I dropped on the floor and had a full-on panic attack,” Toffolo told BBC Radio Nottingham.

“I recognised the user names, but I didn’t recognise those bets. I can’t remember placing them, but they are me. I don’t identify myself with the person on that Excel spreadsheet.

“I was mortified and ashamed of them.

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

It was last April that the former Millwall, Lincoln and Huddersfield full-back first learned of the investigation into his betting breaches, which related to his time at Norwich City and took in loan spells at Swindon, Rotherham, Peterborough and Scunthorpe between 2014 and 2017.

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.

‘I boxed it away’

It was not until he joined Lincoln in 2018 that Toffolo said he became aware that players were prohibited from betting on football.

He told the commission that before moving to the Imps, he felt 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 many lacked the same awareness at the time.

The “considerable time” between the breaches and his charges, Toffolo’s show of “genuine remorse”, openness about his betting, details of his mental health battles at the time of the bets and offer to help the FA educate players about https://milodingines.com gambling were all factors taken into consideration by the commission.

Toffolo told BBC East Midlands Today he grew up with feelings of anxiety, and in his defence he explained that he dealt with periods of “loneliness” and grappled with depression during spells out on loan.

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

“But I don’t hold any grudges because I put myself in this position.

“It’s a part of my life I boxed away because I hated that person – I hated everything about that person and I didn’t want anything associated with that person.”

Toffolo’s suspended ban came in the same year that Brentford striker Ivan Toney and Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali were banned for eight and 10 months respectively for also breaching betting rules.

It was also a year in which top-flight English clubs reached an agreement to withdraw gambling sponsorships from the front of match shirts by the end of the 2025-26 season.

Then in December, an influential group of MPs said the Premier League and other sports governing bodies “should commit to cutting the volume” of gambling adverts in stadiums.

‘I now feel more complete than ever’

Since his case was settled, Toffolo has gone on to start regularly for Forest in the Premier League, and was last week appointed an ambassador of Tricky to Talk – a Forest community trust programme aimed at getting people to speak openly about their mental health.

Earlier in January, Toffolo had his Forest contract extended beyond this season.

“Some people might get down by it [the disciplinary process], but I feel like I have more energy from it,” Toffolo said.

“I feel strong, but I also feel a sense of responsibility now to try help and hope it never happens again to anybody else.

“It’s now down to me as a person to say ‘what can I do to help, how can I protect my children from putting them in this position?’, I feel inspired by it.

“Every day for five months it was just about getting through them one by one.

“I got through it and my career has never been at such a high than it has been in the past two or three months.

“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.

“I feel extremely humbled that I have the opportunity to keep playing.

“I just go out there and I fight for the fans and fight for my family because I’m sitting here now and I’m extremely grateful to even have this opportunity to talk about it.”

Toffolo was talking to BBC Radio Nottingham’s David Jackson and BBC East Midlands Today’s Charlie Slater.

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