Manchester United flop, Ravel Morrison, used to nick boots from stars including Wayne Rooney to sell to help feed his family.
Ravel, 28, admitted he would sneak in the changing room to snatch the gear, then sell pairs for £250 each and use the cash to buy takeaways.
The midfielder – who was considered one of the club’s best talents before being sold in 2012 – made the confession to Old Trafford hero Rio Ferdinand, 42.
He said he once got kicked out of the changing room for nicking Rio’s boots.
Quizzed over it, ex-West Ham and QPR player Morrison said: “Obviously I was on a scholar wage, obviously I was young.
“And then you used to get like £250 for a pair of boots – you take two pairs of boots you get £500. You get home and then you buy your family a Chinese or something. It’s like, ‘wow’!”
Legendary Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson once said Morrison was “the best kid you’ll ever see”.
He signed a pro contract in 2010 but the Mancunian failed to make the grade and was frequently in trouble – narrowly dodging jail in 2011 after being convicted of intimidating a knifepoint robbery witness.
He had spells at Sheffield United, Lazio and most recently at ADO Den Haag in Holland, but is currently a free agent.
Speaking on Rio’s Vibe With Five podcast, Ravel added: “I didn’t mean it to cause so much harm.
“When I used to see yours or Rooney’s deliveries, you would get like 20 or 30 pairs a time.
“So I’m thinking, ‘one pair of boots to put some food and money on the table at my home’. I didn’t think it would be a big problem.”
BT Sport pundit Rio said: “He had all these players’ boots, he couldn’t believe it – like a kid in a sweet shop.
“I think a lot of these type of things happen because you didn’t have the communication skills to say: ‘Listen, this is why I’ve done this’.”