Former Manchester United and West Brom defensive midfielder Ronnie Wallwork was sentenced to 15 months in jail on Monday for selling on parts from stolen cars.
The 34-year-old - who who was fortunate to escape with his life when he was stabbed several times in a Manchester bar five years ago - pleaded guilty to three counts of handling stolen goods at an earlier hearing.
His illegal vehicle-breaking operation was discovered by police when they were investigating several unconnected armed robberies across Lancashire.
It emerged he had sold a Volkswagen Touran engine and parts from a BMW 318i on eBay, while he was observed driving a Mazda Furano into the scrapyard three days after it was stolen from a car dealer.
The three stolen vehicles he was linked to were worth more than £43,000 in total, the court heard.
Sentencing him, Judge Simon Newell said he could not agree with the defence barrister's request to impose a suspended jail term.
He said: "These were high-value items that were stolen.
"It seems to me they were taken in a professional and sophisticated way. It also seems clear to me that they were taken to go into the black market either to be sold on or broken down and sold on.
"You provided the facility for that to happen. There was an element of organisation and sophistication in what went on."
Wallwork, who was capped four times at under-20 level, joined United as a trainee in 1993 but struggled to command a first team place and after several loan spells moved on a free transfer to West Brom in 2002.
Wallwork was the Baggies' player of the year and helped keep West Brom in the Premiership in the 2004-2005 campaign, although they were relegated the following season.
He made 28 appearances for United between 1994 and 2002 and hit the headlines in 1999 while on loan at Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
Wallwork was handed a life ban in Belgium by the country's football union for manhandling a referee, a sanction which was reduced on appeal to three years, two of them suspended.
He was reported to have grabbed referee Amand Ancion by the throat.