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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Paul Gascoigne

Updated: Feb 8

Paul John Gascoigne was born in Dunston (Newcastle), on May 27, 1967. His name was a tribute to the Beatles.


Source Wikipedia

He was brought up in Gateshead (Newcastle). He came from a humble background, his father was a hod carrier (a support to bricklayers), his mother worked in a factory and they initially lived in a council house.

 

Gascoigne already went through some therapy in his childhood, following witnessing a friend's death while another friend died while working for Gascoigne's uncle on a building site. Paul developed obsessions and twitches and an addiction to gaming machines.

 

All his problems seemingly disappeared on a football pitch. After trials with Ipswich, Middlesbrough and Southampton, he was signed by Newcastle as a schoolboy in 1980.

 

Though often overweight he performed well and showed promise. In 1985 he captained Newcastle United's youth team to win the FA Youth Cup (with a brace in the final).

 

He made his first team debut, under Jack Charlton, on April 13 1985, in a 1-0 home win against QPR. Gascoigne went on to play 104 games for the Toon with 25 goals (21 in the league). Newcastle finished 14th, 11th, 17th and 8th. His manager after Chartlon was Willy McFaul for three years.

 

In 1988, though it seemed likely he would join Manchester United, he then signed for Tottenham Hotspurs instead. In London he found Terry Venables as manager and in his first year he played 32 league games with 6 goals and 5 in the League Cup with 1 goal. Spurs finished 6th.

 

In 1989-90 the Lilywhites did even better finishing 3rd and Gascoigne played 34 league games with 6 goals and 4 in the League Cup with 1 goal.

 

In 1990-91, after Gazza (resulting in "Gazzamania") and England had gone close to world cup glory in Italia '90, Spurs finished 10th. He played 26 league games with 7 goals, 6 games in the FA Cup with 6 goals and 5 games in the League Cup with 5 goals (including four in one game against Hartlepool United). Tottenham however were in financial difficulty and Gascoigne was sold to Lazio for the following season. There was still an FA Cup Final to play however against Nottingham Forest at Wembley. To all football fans' horror and not least Lazio's, after only fifteen minutes Gascoigne ruptured his own cruciate ligaments in his right knee with a reckless tackle on Forest's Gary Charles. It was live on Italian TV and was a horrible moment. For the record Tottenham won the game 2-1 after extra-time.

 

Gascoigne was out of action for a year, his rehabilitation further delayed by an incident in a nightclub in late '91.

 

In 1992-93 he was finally ready to play in Italy for Lazio. The deal was clinched by former owner Gianmarco Calleri while now Lazio were owned by ambitious Sergio Cragnotti. The manager was legendary keeper Dino Zoff.

 

Gazza made his debut for Lazio on September 27, in a home game against Genoa. His first goal came in the local derby, equalising the game with only four minutes to go. Immensely popular in Rome this goal already made him immortal. A week later at Pescara he scored one of the best goals of his career when he slalomed past at least four defenders to score an amazing solo goal. In April he broke his cheekbone and had to play in a protective mask. In his first year with the Eagles, he played 22 league games with 4 goals (Roma, Pescara, Milan, Atalanta) and 4 in Coppa Italia. Lazio finished 5th, qualifying for Europe (UEFA Cup) after 16 years. He had shown flashes of his class with some great goals. It was hoped this was just the beginning.

 

In 1993-94 Lazio did one better and finished 4th but Gazza only played 17 league games with 2 goals (Juventus, Cagliari). He continued to have injuries and battle with his weight and then in April broke his leg again, in a tackle with Alessandro Nesta in training. Lazio’s best results were winning the derby 1-0, Juventus 3-1, Cagliari 4-0, Napoli 3-0 at home, Inter 2-1, Napoli 2-1 and Sampdoria 4-3 away. In the UEFA Cup the Biancocelesti disappointingly lost to Boavista in the last 32, 1-2 on aggregate. 

 

In 1994-95 Zdeněk Zeman arrived as Lazio manager. Gone was the relaxed, understanding Zoff and in was highly tactical, strict and physically demanding Zeman. The relationship between the Bohemian and the Geordie predictably never blossomed. Gazza was out for most of the season anyway and only played 4 league games. Lazio had a good season and finished 2nd. The highlights were beating Roma 2-0, Napoli 5-1, Padova 5-1, Foggia 7-1, Milan 4-0, Fiorentina 8-2, Genoa 4-0, Inter 4-1 at home and Inter 2-0, Juventus 3-0, both away. In the UEFA Cup Lazio reached the quarter final (Borussia Dortmund 1-2 on aggregate) and in the Coppa Italia the semi-final (Juventus 1-3 on aggregate).

 

At the end of the season, it was obvious there was no future for Gascoigne at Lazio with Zeman as manager and Gazza returned to Britain.

 

In 1995 he moved to Scotland and joined Rangers. He stayed in Glasgow for three seasons. The Gers manager was Walter Smith and they won two league titles ('96, '97), one Scottish Cup ('96) and one League Cup. Gascoigne played 104 games and scored 39 goals (74 in league with 30 goals). His first two seasons were successful (including a brilliant goal vs Celtic in '96) but his third less so and he also got involved in controversy when he mimed playing a flute (symbolic of Protestant Orange Order marchers) during an Old Firm game at Celtic Park.

 

In 1998 he returned to England and joined Middlesbrough in the First Division (2nd tier), where his former England teammate Brayan Robson was manager. Gazza played 7 league games and 1 in the league cup. The Boro won promotion to the Premier League. 

 

In 1998-99 he played more regularly, making 26 league appearances with 3 goals and 3 in the domestic cups. Middlesbrough finished 9th. Gazza still had ongoing personal problems and a spell in rehab but he generally performed well.

 

In 1999-2000 things did not go so well. He played 8 league games with 1 goal and 3 in the domestic cups. He broke his arm in February and his season faded. Middlesbrough finished 12th. This was his last season with the Smoggies.

 

In 2000 he joined Everton in the Premier League. The Toffees finished 16th under Walter Smith from his Rangers days and Gascoigne played 14 league games and 1 in the League Cup. He continued to be hindered by a series of niggling injuries and depression.

 

After attending an alcohol rehabilitation clinic in the summer, in 2001 he stayed on at the Blues of Liverpool and played 18 league games with 1 goal (Bolton) and 5 in the domestic cups. The People’s Club finished 15th and Gazza missed long periods for a hernia injury.

 

In the spring of 2002 Gascoigne left Merseyside for Lancashire and joined Burnley in the First Division. He played 6 league games for the Clarets who narrowly missed out on the play-offs.

 

In 2003 Gascoigne went for the Chinese experience and joined Gansu Tianma in the China League One (2nd tier) as player-coach but only played 4 league games with 2 goals and left.

 

His last club was Boston United in 2004 in Football League Two (4th tier). He played 4 league games and 1 in the League Cup. 

 

Gascoigne then retired at almost 38.

 

At international level he won 57 caps for England with 10 goals. He performed superbly in the Italia '90 World Cup and Euro '96. In Italy, the Three Lions lost on penalties to Germany in the semi-final (Gazza was booked and would have missed the final) while in the Europeans, well… the same... out to Germany on penalties in the semis. He also played 21 times for the U21's with 5 goals.

 

After retiring he had a few coaching experiences but without proper contracts. First a couple of months with newly founded Portuguese club Algarve United and then Conference North club Kettering United but this only lasted 39 days.

 

Since retiring he has rarely been out of the news. His life became increasingly dominated by severe mental and emotional problems, particularly alcoholism. He has three autobiographies in which he refers to treatment for bulimia, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and alcoholism. He also describes his addictive personality leading to addictions of varying severity to alcohol, cocaine, chain smoking, gambling, high-caffeine energy drinks, exercise and junk food. A troubled soul.

 

As a player however Gascoigne was one of a kind. He is considered one of the best players of his generation and one of the best English footballers of all time. He was an attacking central midfielder often playing as playmaker. Gascoigne had it all: pace, physical strength, balance, dribbling skills, striking and heading ability. His upper body strength and technical skills enabled him to glide past opponents and his great vision meant he could set up passes and assists. He could use both feet and was an incredibly creative and entertaining player. At his prime he was unstoppable. He scored some memorable goals, his goal at Wembley against Scotland in Euro' 96 comes to mind. Unfortunately, his turbulent and often unhealthy lifestyle added to a tendency to get injured limited his career. He will be remembered as a top player but he could have been the greatest.

 

At Lazio he was and still is adored. It is fair to say he is one of the most popular players ever to have worn a Lazio jersey. It was love at first sight with Gazza. Lazio are a unique club, for better or worse and Gazza was a unique player. The fans fell in love with his character, his pranks, his Geordie Italian but especially the flashes of his superlative football skills. He only played 47 games for the Biancocelesti but some of his performances, his goal in the derby in the dying minutes, his amazing goal at Pescara, his passion and pure talent will be cherished for ever. I'm sure the song Paul Gascoigne lala-lala-lala, Paul Gascoigne lala-lala-lala will be sung for generations to come.

 

Personally, I met Gazza in a pub in North Rome where we both lived on an evening before a game. I was relieved to see he was not drinking (his mate Jimmy five bellies certainly was), just smoking a cigar and playing cards with some local lads but the funny thing was these pronounced the card names in Geordie accents.


Official SS Lazio photo

Lazio Career

Season

Total appearances (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

1992-93

26 (4)

22 (4)

4

1993-94

17

17

-

1994-95

4

4

-

Total

47 (4)

43 (4)

4

Sources


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