Coleen Rooney is 'deluded' if she thinks she can change Wayne, say Paul Merson's long-suffering ex-wife

COLEEN Rooney is said to be furious that her husband Wayne, who blew £1million gambling in a single night, is going to be sponsored by a bookies when he returns to British football.

It's something Lorraine Costin – who was married to former player and gambling addict Paul Merson for ten years – can completely understand.

Like Coleen and Wayne, Lorraine and Paul were high school sweethearts who went on to have a family together – and live the high life courtesy of Paul's footballing prowess.

While they are no longer together, Lorraine did stick by Paul when news of his gambling and drug addiction broke. He spent a massive £7 million on drink, drugs and casinos during their time together, leaving her perfectly placed to give Coleen some advice.

“I don’t believe she can change Wayne,” Lorraine tells Sun Online. “You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change.

“She is the mother of four young boys and she has enough to worry about. He’s an adult and it’s time for him to take responsibility."

'Whether it's £1 or £1 million is irrelevant to a gambler'

Coleen is said to have been the driving force behind Wayne's move from D.C. United in Washington, America, to Championship side Derby County in January.

She apparently wants to raise their four sons in the UK and to have a daughter with the star, and is said to be trying hard to curb his wild ways.

His surprise move to the club in January will mean a drop in wages and prestige – but is widely seen as a last ditch attempt to save the marriage.

Coleen apparently left her husband a strict set of rules, banning partying and boozing, when she flew back to the UK recently, but Lorraine fears she's fighting a losing battle.

“If he blows £1m in a casino, that’s his choice and there’s nothing she can do about it,” Lorraine says.

“It doesn’t help if she tries to tell him what he can’t do because when you tell someone they can’t do something, they want to do it even more, to prove they can.

“We try and control people and we can’t control anyone. She might as well be talking to a brick wall, because they’re not going to change unless they want to change.”

Having lived with a gambling addict – who once blew £20,000 in a weekend – Lorraine is not shocked by Wayne’s huge splash on the roulette tables.

“We all say ‘£1million! I could have bought a luxury house or a yacht with that,'" she says. "But money has no value to a gambler when they’re gambling.

“It’s like an alcoholic drinking a whole bottle of whisky. It seems a lot to us but it’s what they do. It’s irrelevant at that moment whether he’s spending £1 or £1million.”

Secret bank accounts

In fact, Lorraine warns that Coleen may not notice if Wayne is blowing the family fortune – as she had no idea Paul was splashing £7million during their marriage.

She says that when you earn so much, it's easy to pay off debts.

“We shared the same bank account,” she says. “But gambling is kept away from the bank account.

“I can’t say what Wayne does, or even if he still gambles, but he knows enough people in the world to set up secret accounts. Gamblers hide things well.”

On top of that, like Paul during his heyday Wayne earns so much the figures, while staggering to fans, are a drop in the ocean to him.

That said, Lorraine is not convinced that promoting the betting firm 32Red will necessarily prove a problem for the new Derby signing – even if he is encouraged to bet himself.

“If he’s strong enough in his own mind he can say, 'Thank you but I don’t want that.’ It’s like an alcoholic saying, ‘Thanks I’ll have a glass of coke.'

“If you have taught your mentality to handle your addiction, then you’re not tempted.”

'It's deluded to think you can fix your man'

Like the Rooneys, Lorraine and Paul married young, at 21, in 1990.

Their three boys – Charlie, 28, Ben, 26 and Sam, 24 – soon followed and, with Paul at the top of his game as an Arsenal striker, life was sweet.

But in 1994, Lorraine’s world came crashing down when Paul admitted he was battling a crippling gambling and drug addiction which led to him blowing millions.

The family fled to France after the story broke and, after a tearful press conference, Paul checked himself into rehab. But his addictions continued to rule his life.

"I saw him at rockbottom when we were hiding in hotels in France," she says. "So his addictions became part of my life because I was living it with him."

Lorraine – who is now an addict counsellor – stuck by him for seven more years and says she “had a deluded belief that I was the one who could fix him.”

The Rooneys' 11-year-marriage has also had its fair share of issues – from Wayne's romps with escorts to his drink driving charges.

Lorraine knows only too well how hard it can be to keep the family together as your footballer husband goes off the rails.

'I felt helpless I couldn't help him'

Lorraine finally split with Paul in 2001, although she admits she still loved him.

“I never ever wanted my marriage to end,” she previously told Sun Online . “I never hated him, not once. I just felt helpless that I couldn’t help him anymore. But you can’t help someone, you can only help yourself.

“I had just come to the end of being able to manage being with him.

“I had to look at my own life and where it was going and if it meant ending the marriage to him I had to do it.”

'It's exhausting looking worrying about him'

Now, she says, Coleen should concentrate on herself, before the strain of keeping her husband on the straight and narrow takes its toll.

“My heart goes out to her because she has a beautiful family and life should all be about herself and her boys. To have to still worry about him and what he’s doing takes up a lot of time and energy.

“It’s exhausting because you are always looking behind you all the time.

“Coleen needs to get where she needs to be in her own mindset to deal with what is going on around her.

“She needs to concentrate on herself and get herself in a really good place in her own life. And then she won’t have to put up with the s**t that she keeps dealing with.”

And she has a warning for wayward Wayne – stay on the rails or you could lose your family.

“He needs to grow up and take responsibility,” she says.

“He’s had enough falls to start realising what he has in life. Yet he still hasn’t got the brains to think to himself , ‘I’ve got to cut this crap out and get control back in my life.’

“He’s got a beautiful family, a beautiful home, a life that people would die for, his health. He has everything.

“If he doesn’t wake up before it’s too late he’ll lose it and he can’t blame anyone but himself. It’s his own loss.”

Should Wayne start going off the rails when the couple move home to the UK, and he’s reunited with his old pals, Lorraine says Coleen will be the first to know.

“She’ll know herself what she should be looking out for because there are personality traits that you see and patterns you recognise,” she says. “But she’s had enough of all this. He needs to grow up.”

To find out more about Lorraine's work go to her website

For information and support on gambling visit GamCare, which runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and also offers face-to-face counselling.

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