Socceroos legend and former West Ham captain Lucas Neill has filed for bankruptcy in the United Kingdom, as details emerge of his troubled investments in the movie industry.
Neill, 38, rarely seen since his career ended in 2014, reportedly earned $40 million over a stellar 19 years of professional football.
But on Sunday (AEST) it was revealed Australia’s star 2010 World Cup captain had appointed UK firm Begbies Traynor as trustees to the bankruptcy.
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It was a shock announcement from the man who reportedly earned $A105,000 a week during a two-year stint as West Ham’s skipper in the English Premier League.
A source close to Neill told The New Daily the former defender “went underground” after missing selection for the 2014 World Cup. He did not know Neill’s current location.
Neill rose to fame after heroic Socceroos performances during and leading up to the 2006 World Cup, where Australia lost to Italy in the round of 16.
In that loss, he handed Italy a controversial match-winning penalty by fouling Fabio Grosso late in the game.
In a statement, Begbies Traynor said Neill would be interviewed in the coming weeks in the UK to determine the full scale of his debts.
Creditors were warned the investigation would take some months, the statement said.
Apart from being a 2015 Asian Cup ambassador, Neill was rarely seen in public since he finished playing football, while other ‘Golden Generation’ Socceroos secured media, coaching and governance roles in football.
Official documents lodged with the UK’s corporate regulator showed several film production businesses linked to Neill sharply deteriorated in operating performance since 2013.
The New Daily can reveal that since 2004, Neill had been an investor in a London-based business known as The Film Development Partnership II.
The partnership co-produced at least two feature-length films including erotic thriller When Will I Be Loved (2004).
The film made around $1 million at the box office, IMDb reported.
According to the company’s latest unaudited accounts, the business generated a net loss of about $7.5 million in the 12 months to April 2015.
The loss had a material impact on the condition of the partnership’s balance sheet and caused its debts to exceed assets by almost $118,000.
The partnership’s largest investor – a firm known as Screen Capital Partners (UK) Limited – recently disclosed that it had written off $61.9 million it invested in the film production house.
It was unclear how much Neill sunk into the business, but as an ordinary member of the partnership he may be preparing to take a financial hit along with the majority investor.
Even though financial statements of The Film Development Partnership II showed it was balance-sheet insolvent in April 2015, it continued as a going concern because shareholders told directors they planned to provide additional financial support to the company.
Neill joined another loss-making film production company in 2002 known as Take 5 Film Limited Liability Partnership.
This business had been balance-sheet insolvent since at least April 2013 when it reported that its liabilities exceeded its assets by $6.9 million.
Mystery also surrounded the value of his investment in a US-based food production company trading as Culinary Arts International.
Life after Premier League glory
Neill left West Ham in 2009 after the club threatened a pay cut, moving briefly to Everton and then Turkish giant Galatasaray.
He previously captained Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League.
Despite playing three games for Sydney FC in 2013, Neill spent the latter part of his career in lucrative leagues in the Middle East and Japan.
He left those leagues in 2014 to go back to England and sign for Watford and Doncaster Rovers.
This was seen as an attempt to revive his chances of playing for the Socceroos at the 2014 World Cup, a bid that failed.
The New Daily was unable to reach Neill for comment.