Paul John Gascoigne (born 27 May 1967 in Dunston, England),
often referred to as Gazza, is a retired English football player
who is widely regarded as one of the most gifted footballers of his
generation. He has also had
spells as a manager and coach, most recently at Kettering Town in 2005.
Playing in the position of midfield, his career included spells at
Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio and Rangers; and he was also
capped 57 times for England.
Gascoigne was born in the Dunston area of Gateshead, the second of
four children of John Gascoigne (a hod carrier) and his wife Carol
Harold. Initially the family lived in a single upstairs room in a
council house with a shared bathroom, and moved several times during
Gascoigne's early life. At
the age of ten his father moved away to Germany to find work, and Paul
suffered a personal tragedy when he witnessed the death of Steven
Spraggon, the younger brother of a friend, who was knocked down by a car
outside a sweet shop. He suffered further trauma soon after when his
father suffered a brain hæmorrhage and was in hospital for eight months.
Gascoigne started playing football at the age of four, playing almost
non-stop in the street and nearby park. He played for his school team
from the age of eight, and later played for the local Redheugh Boys'
Club despite being under the minimum age.
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He caught the attention of the football scouts while playing for
Gateshead Boys, and was given a trial at Ipswich Town although he failed
to impress. Further trials at Middlesbrough and Southampton also proved
unsuccessful, before Newcastle United signed him as a schoolboy in 1980.
At school he was once caught practising his autograph during a geography
lesson, his reason being that he was "going to be a famous
footballer". His teacher was not impressed, telling the young
Gascoigne that "only one in a million becomes a professional
footballer". Nevertheless he was signed on as an apprentice at
Newcastle in 1983, initially playing for the youth team under Colin
Suggett. It was at this time that his nickname of Gazza was first
Paul captained Newcastle's youth team in the 1984-85 season, winning
the FA Youth Cup where he scored twice in the second leg of the final
against Watford. Manager Jack Charlton picked him as a substitute for
the Tyne-Wear derby with Sunderland, although he did not make it onto
the pitch. He made his first team debut at home to Queens Park Rangers
on 13 April 1985, coming on as a substitute. Soon after he signed his
first professional contract, and made a further appearance for the first
team. Willie McFaul took over as manager soon after and awarded Paul his
first start in the black and white shirt, on the opening day of the
1985-86 season at Southampton. He scored his first goal at home to
Oxford United in a 3-0 victory at St James' Park, with a further eight
following in the 1985-86 campaign. Newcastle finished 11th in the First
Division that season and, at the end of it, Paul was featured on the
front cover of the Rothmans Football Yearbook.
In all competitions he made a total of 107 appearances for Newcastle,
scoring 25 goals. He scored one goal against Swindon Town in the 1987-88
FA Cup Fourth Round that lives long in the memory of the Newcastle
supporters. Gazza received the ball about 40 yards out and, after
running towards goal, capped a 5-0 victory with an unstoppable shot that
ended up getting stuck in the stanchion. At the end of the 1987-88
season, he was named as the Barclays Young Player of the Year and had
courted the attention of both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Gascoigne's first choice was Liverpool but with no offer forthcoming,
Gascoigne promised Alex Ferguson that he would sign for Manchester
United. Ferguson duly went on holiday only to find out that Gascoigne
had signed for Spurs, who paid Newcastle a fee of £2.3 million which was
then a British transfer record.
Under Terry Venables, Gascoigne emerged as an exceptional young
midfielder with the rare ability to beat opponents and score superb
individual goals. He had a stocky, powerful build that allowed him to
hold off defenders and weather challenges. He combined his attacking
flair with hustle and tenacious, but sometimes reckless, tackling. In
his first season at White Hart Lane he helped Spurs to sixth in the
First Division, and to third position the following season. Over these
two seasons he made a total of 75 appearances in all competitions,
scoring 14 goals. In the 1990-91 season Tottenham reached the FA Cup
Final after failing to get past the Third Round for the previous two
seasons. Gascoigne scored six goals on the road to Wembley, most notably
he scored a spectacular free kick in the semi-final against Arsenal, the
opening goal in a 3-1 win.
However the final, against Nottingham Forest, turned out to be
disastrous for Gascoigne as he injured himself badly. Going into the
final he had already agreed terms to join Italian club Lazio in an £8.5
million deal and wanted to leave Spurs on a high to show the world how
good he was. Just minutes into the game he took out Garry Parker with a
horror tackle that he was not even booked for. Ten minutes later he
scythed down Gary Charles, rupturing the cruciate ligaments in his right
knee in the process. He subsequently collapsed after taking his place in
the defensive wall for a free kick, from which England team mate Stuart
Pearce scored. Tottenham went on to win the Cup in extra time, which
Gascoigne witnessed from his hospital bed. As a consequence he missed
the entire 1991-92 season while he recovered, suffering a further knee
injury in the process which further delayed his comeback.
He finally joined Lazio for a fee of £5.5 million, making his debut
on 27 September 1992 in a match against Genoa which was televised in
Britain as well as Italy. In his first season at the Stadio Olimpico
Gazza's form was inconsistent but he memorably scored his first goal in
the 89th minute to equalise during the Rome derby against AS
Roma. However he failed to fully settle in Italy and was beset by
intrusive media interest and injury, notably breaking his cheekbone in
April 1993 and his leg a year later; the latter injury keeping him out
for the majority of the 1994-95 season. In all competitions he made 47
appearances for Lazio, scoring 6 goals.
In July 1995 he signed for Rangers of the Scottish Premier League,
for a fee of £4.3 million. He soon made an impact at Rangers, running
almost the length of the pitch to score in the Old Firm match at Celtic
Park, the fifth league game of the season. On 30 December 1995, in a
match against Hibs, Gascoigne 'booked' referee Dougie Smith. Smith had
dropped his yellow card and Gascoigne picked it up and showed it to the
official, before returning it. Smith was not amused and booked Gascoigne
for real, much to the consternation of the crowd and players. Rangers
went on to win the league, clinching the title in the penultimate game
of the season against Aberdeen. After Rangers went 1-0 down in the early
stages Gascoigne went on to score a hat-trick despite, in his own words,
being tired and running on pure adrenaline. Along with the equaliser he
scored in the Rome derby for Lazio, Gascoigne identifies this hat-trick
as one of his best football moments. Rangers subsequently won the
Scottish Cup, and Gascoigne picked up both the Players' Player of the
Year and Football Writers' Player of the Year awards. Rangers won the
league title again in 1996-97, their ninth in succession, and also the
League Cup where Gascoigne scored twice in the Final.
In January 1998 Paul Gascoigne found his life being threatened by the
IRA after he mimicked playing a flute during an Old Firm match at Celtic
Park, which was televised live on Sky Sports. He had previously done the
same after scoring against Steaua Bucharest in a 1995 pre-season
friendly which had gone largely unnoticed. The provocative gesture
infuriated Celtic fans and Gascoigne was fined £20,000 by Rangers and
was subjected to IRA death threats for around six months after the
In March 1998 he left Scotland and joined Middlesbrough for £3.4
million. His first match was the League Cup final against Chelsea in
which he came on as a substitute. He played seven games in Division One,
helping Boro into the Premiership as runners-up to Nottingham Forest.
Personal problems limited his appearances for Boro and he later spent
two seasons at Everton, and finished the 2001-02 season at Burnley.
In 2002, with his career coming to an end, Gascoigne went on trial
with US club D.C. United, but failed to win a contract. In January 2003,
he signed a nine-month contact with Chinese club Gansu Tianma in both a
playing and coaching role, but after going to America for treatment
against drink and depression in April, he failed to return. The eruption
of the SARS virus in China only further halted any thoughts of
returning. Instead, he returned to England and later trained for six
weeks with then-Premiership Wolves but was not offered a contract.
Gascoigne was first called up to the full England squad by Bobby
Robson for a friendly against Denmark, in September 1988. He scored his
first goal for England in a World Cup Qualifier against Albania. The
following match saw him make his first start and he played in most of
matches in the run in to the 1990 World Cup with England finishing
second in their group. He secured his place in the World Cup squad in a
4-2 win against Czechoslovakia when he scored one goal and had a hand in
the other three.
He played in all three of the group games at World Cup held in Italy
in 1990 as England topped their group, providing the assist for Mark
Wright's winner against Egypt. In the first knockout game against
Belgium he notched another assist. With the score at 0-0 towards the end
of extra time. Gascoigne got the ball in the middle of the pitch and
attacked, winning a free kick. He chipped the ball into the penalty area
and David Platt volleyed the ball into net to send England into the
quarter-finals where they played Cameroon. Gascoigne was at the centre
of the action again when he gave away a penalty which Cameroon scored
from. England were 2-1 down in the last ten minutes of the match, but
Gascoigne's tenacity and range of passing and reading of the game was
evident. In extra time he found Gary Lineker with a perfectly-weighted
through-ball from which Lineker won and subsequently scored a penalty,
which proved to be the winning goal.
On 4 July 1990 England played West Germany in the World Cup
semi-final in Turin. After going 1-0 down early in the second half,
Gascoigne's Spurs team-mate Gary Lineker equalised for England with ten
minutes remaining to force extra time. Gascoigne, having already
received a yellow card during England's 1-0 victory over Belgium in the
second round, showed his tenacity again as he went on a surging run but
lost the ball. As he was trying to regain it he caught Thomas Berthold
and was booked, which meant that he would be suspended for the World Cup
Final if England won the match. Gascoigne was shattered by this and his
subsequent tears became one of football's most enduring images. The
match culminated in a penalty shoot-out with Gascoigne originally
intended to take the third kick, which was scored by Platt. He was named
in the tournament All-Star team for his performances and returned to
England to a frenzy that became known as Gazzamania.
By the time of his serious injury in the 1991 FA Cup Final, he had
earned twenty England caps. After his recovery he was usually picked by
Graham Taylor for England matches until the broken leg sustained at
Lazio ruled him out for a fifteen month spell. His successful 1995-96
campaign culminated in arguably his best form since Italia '90, and he
became a key part of Terry Venables' team in the run-in to Euro '96. In
the first game against Switzerland he was substituted but, in the second
game against Scotland, he scored the goal of the tournament. A minute
after David Seaman had saved a penalty, Gascoigne received the ball from
Darren Anderton on the left outside the Scotland penalty area. He moved
as if to play the ball down the outside, but flicked the ball over Colin
Hendry with his left foot and changed direction. Hendry was completed
wrong footed and, as the ball dropped, Gascoigne volleyed it first time
with his right foot past Andy Goram.
In the third group game against the Netherlands Gascoigne inspired
the team to a memorable 4-1 victory, providing the corner which led to
the second goal and crafting the third goal with a mazy run into the
Dutch penalty area. After beating Spain on penalties, England met
Germany in an ill-fated and emotionally charged semi-final. Early on
Gascoigne's corner again led to an England goal, and extra time was
again required. With the golden goal rule in operation, Gascoigne almost
scored the winner when he came within an inch of converting Alan
Shearer's cross. Fans have argued ever since whether Gascoigne would
have scored had he been fitter and lighter. In the event, England lost
to Germany on a penalty shoot-out, and once again, Gascoigne shed tears.
He was named to the tournament All-Star squad along with Shearer and
Under Glenn Hoddle, Gascoigne was picked regularly over the next year
and a half helping England qualify for the 1998 World Cup, most notably
in the 0-0 draw in Italy. But with injury and disciplinary problems
affecting his game, he was famously left out of the final squad by
Hoddle, an event that was dubbed Gazzagate by the media. British
tabloid newspapers showed pictures of a drunken Gascoigne eating kebabs
in the early hours of the morning only a week before the final squad was
due to be chosen, sparking fears about Gascoigne's ability to
participate due to poor health and dietary issues. Despite these
problems many players expected Gascoigne to be picked, in particular
David Beckham who felt that England would have been better off with
Gascoigne in the squad. On being told he was out of the squad, Gascoigne
wrecked Hoddle's room in a rage before being restrained. Five other
players were also left out the squad, including Phil Neville who was
later consoled by Gascoigne. Hoddle later hit back at Gascoigne,
declaring publicly that it was the latter's own fault that he was not
included in the squad. But while Neville went on to win many more caps,
Gascoigne was never to play for his country again, having won 57 caps
and scored 10 goals.
Managerial and coaching career
Having already gained some coaching experience in China, he signed
for Boston United on 30 July 2004. After being at the club for 11 games
he left on 5 October 2004, to begin a football coaching course. He made
a total of five appearances for the club but scored no goals. In the
summer of 2005 he spent two months as player-coach at the recently
founded Portuguese team Algarve United, but a proposed contract never
materialised and he returned to England. He then became manager of
Kettering Town on 27 October 2005. His tenure at Kettering lasted just
thirty-nine days, and he was dismissed by the club's board on 5 December
2005, along with assistant manager Paul Davis, by the club owner who
claimed Gascoigne's alcohol problems were to blame .He is now
rumoured to be involved with new football club Tewkesbury Rovers from
the Cheltenham Football league. It is not clear what role he will be
taking on but thought he may be player-manager.
Gascoigne has been featured in the tabloid media countless times
since he first came to prominence after Italia '90. Many stories have
been published over the years detailing the various antics and pranks he
has perpetrated and been involved in; his battles with alcoholism, wife
beating and other personal problems; and his colourful social
activities, particularly during the mid 1990s.
He married Sheryl in 1996, from whom he was divorced in 1998; they
have a son, Regan. He also had two stepchildren, one of whom Bianca
Gascoigne appeared on reality TV show Love Island. Gascoigne no
longer acknowledges her, or her brother Mason, as his children.
At the height of Gazzamania, he reached number 2 in the UK Top 40
with Fog On The Tyne, a collaborative cover with Lindisfarne.
He featured two videogames: Gazza's Superstar Soccer and Gazza II. In
the early 1990s Gascoigne featured in an advertising campaign to promote
the Fabergé brand Brut. Paul Gascoigne is perceived to have never
fulfilled this potential as a player.
- In 2004 he published his autobiography Gazza: My Story,
written with Hunter Davies. He published a follow-up book Being
Gazza: Tackling My Demons in 2006.
- In 2005, he made an emotional TV appearance on a BBC One
programme about ex-footballers. Speaking to Scottish ex-footballer
Alan Hansen, he talked about his problems and how he had had to cope
with not being the player he used to be. He also mentioned he was
determined to get back into the game by obtaining the proper
coaching badges needed to manage a team.
- On December 5, 2005, the day of his firing from Kettering Town,
he was arrested after an alleged assault on a press photographer
outside a hotel in Liverpool .
The photographer later dropped these charges, but the same charge
was again brought against him in November 2006 over an alleged
incident in a London nightclub.
- In August 2006, he visited Botswana on behalf of the FA's
international outreach week and played football with the children
from the SOS Children's village there.
- In 2004 he stated that he wished to be referred to as G8,
combining his initial and his playing number.
- In May 2007, he underwent emergency surgery on a perforated
stomach ulcer, after falling ill celebrating his 40th birthday.
- He will be appearing in the Sci-Fi film Final Run which
is scheduled for release in 2008.
- Gascoigne also helped with fundraising activities for Megan
Armstrong, a young girl who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Club and Country
- FIFA World Cup Fourth Place winners medal, 1990
- FA Cup, 1991
- Scottish League Championship, 1996 and 1997
- Scottish Cup, 1996
- Scottish League Cup, 1997
- PFA Young Player of the Year, 1988
- BBC Sports Personality of the Year, 1990
- Scottish Players' Player of the Year, 1996
- Scottish Football Writers' Player of the Year, 1996
- English Football Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductee, 2002
Young Player of the Year
Sports Personality of the Year
Scottish Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year
Scottish PFA Players' Player of the Year