Manchester - Wayne Rooney was "exploited" when the now Manchester United and England striker burst on the football scene as a teenager, a court was told here on Tuesday.
Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of England's Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), a players' union, cited the career of former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne as an example of what can happen to talented youngsters who are not given the correct guidance.
He added Gascoigne now needed the PFA assistance to help keep a roof over his head.
Taylor was giving evidence as an expert witness in a case at Manchester's Mercantile Court.
Rooney, 24, is being sued there for $6.7m in a contractual dispute with Proactive, the sports agency the forward signed an eight-year deal with when aged 17 soon after he'd signed his first professional contract with hometown club Everton in 2002.
The company was founded by agent Paul Stretford, who brokered multi-million pound deals with sponsors including Nike and Coca-Cola for Rooney and also acted for his wife Coleen.
Proactive argues it was supposed to receive 20 percent commission from the deals but since Stretford left the firm in acrimonious circumstances in October 2008, no further commission payments have been made.
Taylor, told the hearing, now in its third week that players needed protection and were not solely obsessed with how much money they could earn.
"I do take exception to players being portrayed as cash cows and having cheques waved under their noses losing their principles," he said.
"Someone who has been mentioned, particularly Paul Gascoigne, where now he's in a situation where he comes to us to help provide a roof over his head.
"Actually I feel he could have been looked after better during his career. I'm not pointing any fingers here."
Taylor was sat yards away from Mel Stein, Gascoigne's former agent, who gave evidence earlier on Tuesday.
Ian Mill, the lawyer representing Proactive, asked Taylor: "Is it your view, having studied the evidence, that Proactive exploited Mr Rooney in the arrangements made in 2002 or not? Yes or no?"
Taylor replied: "If you wanted me to say yes or no, I would say yes.
"I don't think eight years was reasonable.
"With regard to the terms, we have already heard evidence it was impossible to get out of his contract during the eight years.
"I didn't think that was the world I wanted to create for footballers.
"He clearly feels he's not been treated fairly because he wants this particular adviser (Stretford) against the company you are representing."
Tuesday was set to be last day in which evidence was heard in this case with legal argument on Wednesday and a conclusion on Friday.
However, a final written decision by the judge may not be handed down for some time.
The case continues.