Posts Tagged ‘Addictions’

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I was desperately sad to see that Paul Gascoigne has once again become ill through his well documented drink problems.  Like many others, I wonder how things may have turned out if he had joined Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United when he left Newcastle in 1988 instead of moving to Terry Venables and Spurs.  Whether he would have been able to mould him not only into the wonderful footballer he was, but also help him to overcome his many personal problems, no-one can really know.  If anyone could have helped him during his career though, it would have been Ferguson.

To see Gazza lurch from one problem to the next is sad for so many people because he is such a likable character.  We would all love to have the chance to have a pint and share a chat with Gazza, he comes across as one of us. A man on the street who lived the dream, loved playing for England and at his peak was one of the worlds best players.  His peak was  much briefer than it should have been, mainy because of some serious injuries and a career cut short by off the field problems.  His 57 caps and 10 goals for England do not do his talent justice.

Some readers may not have had the privilege of watching Paul Gascoigne play.  The closest player i can compare him to in today’s game is Jack Wilshere.  This was in a day where such a player was so rare though.  He could pick up the ball and drive through midfield, jink through tackles, pick a pass, had remarkably quick feet, could score goals and loved a tackle himself.  The tackling could sometimes get the better of him in big games, flying into challenges he didn’t need to make saw him break his leg in the FA cup semi final of 1991 for example.

I was lucky enough to be there when he scored THAT goal against Scotland in Euro 96.  A run through the Scotland midfield, a deft touch over Colin Hendry’s head to make a fool of one of Europe’s finest Centre-Halfs followed by a crushing volley past the keeper for one of the best goals ever scored in an England jersey.

Sadly, for any great goal , inspirational game or audacious flick there is a story about drink, drugs, nightclubs or violence.  Gazza is the very definition of flawed genius.  Why is it that some of footballs very brightest talents seem particularly susceptible to addictions and mental illness it is difficult to say, but Maradona, Best, Ronaldo (the Brazilian variety) as well as Gascoigne himself have all suffered some similar problems.  Is it the pressure to perform at a young age, being thrust into the limelight when not suited to it or simply having the wrong people in their circles?  I’m not sure we can say.

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What I can say is that I wish all the best to one of my boyhood idols in his latest battle against addictions and personal problems.  I thing its fair to say that it will be much more difficult than football ever proved for the best instinctive player I ever saw play.

*Pictures from tumblr and The Mirror