Gazza – How long has he got?

by Matt Quinn

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The recent demise of Paul Gascoigne has once again highlighted the pertinence of the cliche “flawed genius”. Not the first and certainly not the last footballer to self-destruct, Matt Quinn takes a look at England’s most talented footballer of our generation and the struggles he faces surrounding the influences around his daily life.

A life after football?

All had been quiet on the Gazza front since the infamous TV documentary Surviving Gaza, screened last year. We could have only presumed he was on the road to recovery and finally getting his life back on track.

But some people can’t keep away from the spotlight as Gazza was reportedly arrested after getting drunk on a fishing trip.

Gascoigne 42, dressed in a Newcastle tracksuit, was handcuffed and carted off when police allegedly found him worse for wear and staggering outside a village pizza parlour.

The former Spurs, Newcastle and England star became abusive when he was asked to move his van which was blocking the entrance.

An onlooker said “He was so drunk he could hardly stand. He’d clearly had too much to drink.”

“He didn’t want handcuffs on and there was a fracas. Officers put him in a car. He looked old and frail.”

A local said: “He fell out of the van.”

Another said: “He was challenging us to pool but at one point sat with his head in his hands, saying, ‘I’m so embarrassed. I’m a legend and shouldn’t be in this state’.”

He was kept overnight in prison to sober up before being questioned.

Tortured Genius

It was only last year that Gazza made the front pages with his antics as police had to drag him out of an overflowing bath tub, after the tortured genius had attempted to end his suffering in a London hotel. Earlier staff reports had suggested that he had asked for a steak knife to be brought up to his room, without a steak. It used to be very easy to view Gascoigne as a loveable rogue who couldn’t keep out of mischief. With every new story that breaks, however, it is obvious that a modern tragedy is unfurling in front of a baying but sympathetic media. There is vulnerability about Paul Gascoigne that has helped him maintain his status amongst England’s best-loved sportsmen, despite various serious indiscretions, such as wife beating.

Tears of a clown

The whole chaotic journey, that is Gazza’s life, has been predictable from even the early days. Always known as the prankster in the dressing room, it was evident that Gascoigne loved the banter and camaraderie involved in football. However, he seemed unable to separate where the fun ended and the serious business of football began. Despite Alex Ferguson’s desperate attempts to get Gazza to sign for Manchester United, Gascoigne’s advisors persuaded him to head for the bright lights of London and Spurs. A later move to Lazio saw him become an isolated and miserable figure. This mistake was not learnt from when he began a strange tenure as a manager in China again forcing Gazza to become introspective and self-analytical. His advisors and those close to him deserted him as his fortune and talent waned, the banter left behind by the more professional, continental outlook of football and a less sympathetic public saw Gascoigne long for the halcyon days of Italia 90. This longing saw Gazza turn to drink, with several trips in and out of rehab, and thus cut the shambolic figure he is today. Poor choices throughout his career and a vaguely idiotic personality, despite being combined with unquestioned talent, destroyed the once fresh-faced Geordie and the once crown prince of English soccer.

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  • Dave

    Its very sad,a classic case of a footballer unable to deal with all the fame and attention.

    I feel it is to late to help him. I believe that if he had gone to United he wouldnt have been in such a sorry state

  • dexylongshot

    I’m gutted, he was my hero in my mid teens, I’ve got his Italia 90 19 top, preparing itself for an outing or 2 this summer down the boozer. Shame.

  • Paul

    Classic of example of a footballer not preparing for the future. Most today will take a media course of some sort or in Vinney Jones case fluke an acting career!

  • Tef1on

    I had the pleasure of meeting Gazza once in the street when he was a coach at Boston United, My Girlfriend cut his hair & Bleached his goatee every week. I love the man, he is a great laugh and he shook my hand and told me my misses was a belter… massive respect for my childhood hero! Hope he sorts himself out soon!

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