Football is the Only Cure for GazzaBy: Daryl | February 21st, 2008
Sad sad news about Paul Gascoigne today. The former Newcastle, Spurs, Lazio, Rangers and England midfielder was arrested at a Hilton Hotel in Gateshead (near Newcastle) and sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The now 40-year-old Gazza has had all kinds of drinking and depression problems over the years, which seem to have gotten worse since he quit playing football. I don’t normally get choked up about footballers off-the-field problems, but it’s different with Gazza. He’s done many many stupid (and some downright despicable) things over the years. But now his playing career is over, and his managerial prospects are finished before they even started I see a man who literally needs football to keep himself sane, but has no way of staying involved.
Back when he was on trial at Wolves in 2003 (which should never have happened to a player of his talents) Gazza said “I get depressed when I don’t play. It’s been killing me. It can last for as long as three months, but I know when I have a ball at my feet, I’m safe. I’m happy again, it’s all I know.” Footballers often say that sort of thing, but they don’t mean it the way Gascoigne did.
I also remember seeing a documentary about his brief stint in Chinese football with Lanzhou Flying Horses. Despite the low low standard and his frustrations with his teammates (and vice versa) he was happy when in training or on matchday. But inbetween he literally didn’t know what to do with himself and inevitably wound up drinking. A lot.
We all love football (unless you’ve wandered onto this site by mistake) but Gazza genuinely needs it. It’s like he was gifted and cursed at the same time. Here’s hoping he gets well soon, and here’s a reminder of how outrageously talented he was.