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Paul Gascoigne

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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.[1] 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.

Early life

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.[2] 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 coined.

Club career

Newcastle United

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.

Tottenham Hotspur

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.

Lazio

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.

Rangers

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 incident.[3]

Later career

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.

International career

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 Steve McManaman.>

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 [4].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.

Outside football

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.[5][6]

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.[7][8]

Recent activities

  • 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 [4]. 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[5].
  • 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.[6]
  • 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[7].
  • He will be appearing in the Sci-Fi film Final Run which is scheduled for release in 2008.[8]
  • Gascoigne also helped with fundraising activities for Megan Armstrong, a young girl who had been diagnosed with cancer.

Honours

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

Individual

  • 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
PFA Young Player of the Year
1988
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
1990
Scottish Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year
1996
Scottish PFA Players' Player of the Year
1996

References and Notes

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