In quotes: Paul Gascoigne

The sight of Paul Gascoigne sliding on the Wembley turf in extra time, his studs missing the ball by millimetres, is one of the abiding ‘nearly moments’ of English football. It was a warm evening on 26 June 1996, and over 75,000 had packed into Wembley stadium. It felt like football was coming home.

But it never did. Because football is, as Ellis Boyd Redding put it, ‘no fairytale world.’ And neither was Gazza’s career, but we’ll leave it to other publications to labour too heavily on his demise.

There’s an old saying among ex-professionals in England that ‘everyone has a Gazza story’. Let’s savour those golden moments, the antics, the sheer childlike glee with which he approached playing football. He was one of us. He is us. Enjoy the quotes…

The man himself…

1. How he’d like to be remembered:

‘I’d like to think that I’ve made everyone involved in my life proud. My mam and dad especially’

2. On his time in Scotland:

‘Glasgow Rangers. God I loved playing for them’

3. Trying to put Alan Shearer off his interview with the press in the England training camp:

‘Oi Shearer! Uhhh, ‘me and Kenny Dalglish are great partners!’ Who do you think you are, geordie? You’re just a thick f**king geordie like me!’

4. On maintaining dressing room morale:

‘I like to help create team spirit in the dressing room. I feel that I’ve got loads of love to give’

5. When asked about his struggle with alcoholism:

‘I was on four bottles of whisky a day. The worst one was when I went four months without any food or water – not even water – and four bottles of whisky a day. When I went to the treatment centre it took us about three weeks to start drinking water. I thought water was gonna kill us’

6. On making time for his fans:

‘I never refused an autograph, never refused to buy someone a drink. Now I’m learning to say I’ve got other things on, instead of doing it and wondering why’

7. When asked at the unveiling of the new Wembley about his famous goal against Scotland at Euro ’96:

‘Somewhere at the old Wembley there’s a patch of grass with Colin Hendry still stood on it’

8. On his education:

‘I got eight O-levels at school…zero in every subject’

9. On the infamous altercation with Vinnie Jones:

’He really squeezed them so hard. Honestly, I thought I’d lost my family allowance’

10. On what he learned during his time in rehab:

‘You learn, right, a lot of people’s problems – why they get upset, why they get down, why they turn to drink – is because they can’t say one word and it’s N-O, no’

Fellow professionals…

11. Dino Zoff:

‘He ate ice cream for breakfast, drank beer for lunch and when injured he blew up like a whale. But as a player? Oh, beautiful, beautiful. I loved that boy. He was a genius, an artist, but he made me tear my hair out’

12. Paul Ince:

‘Probably the best player I played with. What more can I say? He’s a maverick, he just had everything’

13. José Mourinho:

‘Paul Gascoigne is the special one’

14. George Best:

‘They say that Paul Gascoigne is the new George Best, but has he sh*gged three Miss Worlds?’

15. Sir Alex Ferguson:

‘He was the best player of his era, a breath of fresh air because he played with a smile’

16. Gary Lineker:

‘Part of his genius, part of his magnificence, is the fact that he was so vulnerable. Without that vulnerable side, without all the things that come with Gazza, I don’t think Paul Gascoigne would have been the player that he was’

“Mad as a March hare”

17. Glenn Hoddle:

‘My saddest decision in football was leaving Paul Gascoigne out of the 1998 World Cup finals. But he wasn’t fit enough and once that decision is made, as a manager and a group of players, you forget about who isn’t there and focus on the job’

18. Stuart Pearce:

‘Mad as a March hare, and brilliant to have around the squad… The crackerjack of British football. He’s the most talented individual I’ve played alongside’

19. Frank Lampard:

‘He was the one I always looked up to and wanted to be’

20. Wayne Rooney:

‘He’s probably the most exciting English player I’ve seen, and certainly the best’

Tomorrow’s ‘In Quotes’… Johan Cruyff

By |2020-04-18T15:51:14+00:00April 18th, 2020|

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