Gazza – Thoughts from a Newcastle United fan.

Posted on February 14th, 2010 | 34 Comments |

Gazza: Just couldn't say "no"?
Gazza: Just couldn't say "no"?
The enigma that is Paul Gascoigne is always one that has fascinated me over the years. Perhaps it’s because my love affair with Newcastle United started around the same time as the emergance of the Geordie star, or perhaps it’s formed over a longer time period, perpetuated by his problems that have been so widely reported in the media.

That’s my motivation for writing this. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon last week when ‘Gazza was yet again in the papers, this time over an altercation at Leeming Bar, which I why I decided to give it some time.

The influence Paul Gascoigne had on me whilst I was growing up was immense. He was who I was in the playground at break-times whilst I was playing football with a tennis ball. I wanted to be him, have his talent, play for Newcastle United! I, like many others, didn’t have the ability unfortunately but at that age you don’t care. Emulating your favourite players is all that does – and Gascoigne was mine, despite him being very young in footballing terms at the time.

With a playing career that took him to Italy, Scotland and even as far as China briefly, there is no doubting that the bloke can play footy. Did he ever reach his potential? In flashes. All fans have seen what he could be capable of, it was reproducing that on a regular basis that was a problem. Perhaps some of his childhood troubles meant his focus deserted him from time to time? Maybe it was the move away from Newcastle to Tottenham Hotspur, the upheaval, the feeling of being alone? Perhaps his choice of friends didn’t help? Jimmy ‘Five Bellies’ Gardner regularly being pictured with him on boozy nights out lead people to believe this. Unfortunately, maybe ‘Gazza just couldn’t say no?

It’s hard to overlook some of the things that have happened in his personal life. The battles with drugs and alcohol, his family problems, his mental issues. Perhaps his mental issues are deep-rooted started at a very young age? Being brought up in a shared council house and witnessing the death of some of his friends, watching his dad recovering from a brain haemorrage are all things that could have a knock on effect, the latter was cited in his autobiography as the time when he started developing symptons of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Anyway, let’s get back to why I love the Dunston born superstar – football!

There is no doubt wor ‘Gazza has given us some of the most iconic football images over the past 20 years. I’m sure we all remember him crying at Italia ’90 after a yellow card in the semi-final meant he wouldn’t be able to play in the final, the pictures of his horror injury in the ’91 FA Cup final, his chip and volley over Colin Hendry’s head at Euro ’96 and subsequent ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration. All images that the vast majority of football fans will remember. For me, his goal against Swindon in the FA Cup is the one that sticks in my mind, that’s where I saw him play for the first time, that’s where my fascination with ‘Gazza began!

Football gave Paul Gascoigne a focus, something which if he didn’t have then who knows what would have happened to him. Now he doesn’t have that option, football has left him behind, or perhaps it’s the other way around? ‘Gazza has already said that having to give up playing football ‘ripped his heart out’, and that leads me to a point.

Footballer’s, or any professional sports-people for that matter, are very dedicated. To be the best, you have to put the hours in and have an amount of natural ability to go with it. Generally, hard training starts at a young age and continues throughout the career, day in and day out. Then what happens? What do you do when you reach the end of your career? Chances are that there wouldn’t have been the spare time to build up anything to do outside of the sport. This is where things need to change. There needs to be some support offered for players stepping out of the game. There may well be some nowadays as things have improved in football dramatically in that aspect, but I doubt it was there when ‘Gazza needed it. I’m not talking about re-hab or clinics or anything for any addiction, more for the adjustment in life. If there was somebody to guide him in the right direction then perhaps we wouldn’t be reading about him in the front pages of the newspaper, perhaps we could be talking of a young up and coming English manager instead?

As for me, I still love you ‘Gazza!

NUFCBlog Author: toonsy toonsy has written 643 articles on this blog.

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34 Responses

  1. The best player England has produced in decades – amazing player!! i know his personal life has been a bit of a train wreck but hey, he is one of us and we have to love him. The entire national press never miss a chance to slag us to bits so i am dammed if i will slag on of my own down. As far as i can make out – its newcastle v the rest of england these days.

  2. Undoubtedly one of the best, most naturally gifted talents ever. I hope he can turn his life around.

  3. He is dragging everyone who cares for him down – He will end up the same as George Best. When is the only question.

  4. Read half his book – Wasn’t really that into it.

    There’s millions of people who suffer from alcoholism and live with it and get on with their lives without dragging everyone who try to help them down.

    He’s run out of chances for me.

    I understand he will probably never run out of chances with his family and that’s fair enough, but with me I’m just not bothered anymore.

  5. It’s not a nice situation but I haven’t got much time for Gazza, he couldn’t wait to jump ship and move to London yet now it’s this club that is expected to help him out.

    I remember when he came back with Spurs and people were throwing mars bars at him and he got a really shit reception, not what you would expect for someone who’s seen as a hero now.

  6. Aye hitman, fair play for getting through it (though I’ve already said that before I believe).

    TGS – read McGrath’s book in the summer and it gave you an insight into the sort of person who might not be prepared to help themselves first before anyone else can. Without that, you’re on a downward spiral to oblivion. Been close to a few people, and some have wanted to help themselves and others haven’t. Gazza doesn’t seem to want to help himself and it’s awful to watch. His mind and temperament were never made for the big time so his demise was inevitable.

  7. No one can help him until he is prepared to help himself, and to me he just doesn’t want it enough. BBM you touched on something that is very important in this >
    His were never made for the big time so his demise was inevitable.

    In most cases you will find that a lot of people that have problems with drink have the same ” mind and temperament” issues that seem to make them predisposed to the Demon.

  8. He was born a few streets away from me although it was after I moved down south. I never knew him but I believe my sister (RIP) was friendly with his dad. My nieces son sometimes met him in the local park and Gazza would always take the time to have a kick about with him and other kids. When I first saw this tribute I was expecting to read that he had finally succumbed to the debilitating effects of alcholism and had passed on. I’m glad he hasn’t but wouldn’t be surprised to hear news like that soon. I was pleased when Pedro seemed to be taking him under his wing with the academy but it would appear that his personal demons just cannot be controlled, a real pity.

  9. “Wouldn’t have been the spare time to build up anything to do outside of the sport”??? Are you kidding me??? Footballers have so much spare time these days, it’s not even a full-time job!

    There are thousands and thousands of people up and down the country who can’t deal with real life and turn to drink, drugs etc. There are usually serious reasons for this and they are usually sad reasons too but some of these people do learn to cope. The difficulty for Gazza, is when you’ve reached the heights that he has and being idolised globally, it’s a hell of a long way to fall…

    Great player, lovely fella (when sober) so I’ve heard but seems incapable of coping with the reality of his life…

  10. Regardless of what he has or hasn’t done to help himself, the whole situation is still a massive shame. He was a brilliant talent, will never forget his goal against Scotland, magic like. (My dad being Scottish obviously helped me enjoy it that little bit more, lol)

    I saw this years ago but will never forget it, he’s a complete character. Only short but worth a watch, for a laugh:

  11. Young lads with time on their hand and more money than they know what to do with.
    How many great players, were alcoholics, seemed to be an occupational hazard at one time.
    With the games fitness requirements to-day and the mixture of continental players from non alcoholic cultures, excessive drinking is frowned upon as is the pie eating diets.
    But we still here the betting, drinking and bingeing stories, connected with too much money and little guidance.

  12. chuck says:
    February 14, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    “With the games fitness requirements to-day and the mixture of continental players from non alcoholic cultures”

    Chuck, the real differentiation in European drinking habits and many other things too down the ages has been between Northern and Central European, mostly Protestant countries such as Germany, Scandinavia, The Czech Republic (the world’s biggest beer drinkers incidentally) the UK, and southern, mostly Meditterranean, mostly Catholic countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal etc. You can simplify this further by dividing it into regions where beer is the predominant poison, and regions where wine is the predominant poison.

  13. Big Dave, perhaps but you need to be in his shoes to know and understand his problems. I can’t help thinking he is very much like Michael Jackson and can’t accept he is getting older. In his mind he possibly still thinks he can play as he used to. I don’t know but it is one possibility.

  14. I think that like George Best and Jimmy Greaves, Gazza’s drinking descended into chronic alcoholism when the legs went. Their primary addiction was football, being ridiculously good at it and adored for it. Nothing was the same after that, and alcohol was, or is in Gazza’s case, the substitute. There was Maradona too with his more South American addiction, then his eating.

  15. The two documentaries i saw of Gazza showed his humorous side first and then his ex wife and children chasing him which was appalling, he was brilliant for us and Ferguson stated that if he had signed for him he would have kept him right which i believe he would.
    It was reported a few years ago that he urinated on the carpet in front of diners in an Indian restaurant which is disgusting behaviour, cannot forgive anyone for that and its not good for the club that he is wearing our tracksuit when getting locked up, he was at Spurs longer than us and you would think they would try and help him.

  16. HITMAN u talk more shite than all the pro ashley lads put together ,and u only gob of when your pissed so i take it your demonds are cream cakes u little fat fcker,so give it a rest your like a fckin parrot

  17. Who’s the dork @23? getting back to Gazza, I blame his so called friends who bled him dry when he had everything and dropped him like a sack of shit when he had nothing.

  18. who the fk you talking to batty you little scruffy chav,ive been off the drink for 10 year you plank,if anyone talks utter shite on here its you,going on like your a big time gambler,you will get far on your giro probliy never done a decent days graft in ya life,your full of hot air and piss,now do one.

  19. WORKEY
    Afraid that was not my point, in fact recent demographic studies show an increase in the amounts of beer consumed by those in the European southern tier and oddly enough an increase in wine consumption in the northern regions.
    What I attempted to say was, the general pub culture found in both Ireland and the UK one which is not in general commonplace in most European societies, may be responsible for a good deal of the alcoholism found in players from within that particular culture.
    Where for instance continental players may perhaps prefer to go out to eat (perhaps with a glass or so of wine) it`s commonplace for local players to head for the pub.
    A behavior pattern not endorsed by most clubs, especially those managed by continentals.
    And by the way i see little point in bringing religion into the equation, has nada to do with the matter.