By Tom Tibble

Former West Ham star Lucas Neill has been declared bankrupt in the UK despite earning an estimated £27million in his career, according to a report.

The retired Australian defender spent half of that high-level playing-career in the Premier League, amassing 96 international caps, and represented West Ham, Blackburn and Everton while accumulating 279 appearances in England’s top flight.

According to a report in the Guardian on Monday, the 38-year-old’s bankruptcy is being entrusted to London-based insolvency firm Begbies Traynor even though the player accumulated considerable wealth during nearly 20 years at the top level. The Guardian estimate that figure to be £27million.

“Mr Neill is due to be interviewed when he returns to the UK in the coming weeks, at which point the trustees will be able to obtain the background information required to determine the full scale of Mr Neill’s debts,” Dale Hernon of Begbies Traynor said in a statement, as per the Guardian. “At this early stage of proceedings, it is currently unclear to what extent any funds will be recovered.”

Though Niell’s matters are being dealt with it could take some number of months before investigations into the Australians finances are fully resolved, or the full extent of the debts realised.

Neill was a fans’ favourite during his playing days for his committed and tenacious style of play.

One of the highlights of his domestic career probably came while playing at Blackburn where he made 208 appearances for the club and featured as part of the squad that won the 2002 League Cup after defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the final.

Niell was also part of the Socceroos squad that qualified for the World Cup finals in Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010, where he captained the team on the latter occasion.

The Australian joined West Ham in the 2006/2007 campaign, amassing 89 appearances for the club and contributing to the teams 9th place finish in 2008/2009 before moving to Everton the following year.