This Sunday, Paul Gascoigne appeared on Match of the Day 2 as a pundit/guest. This was part of a triumvirate of televisual appearances. One in which perhaps we have seen a refreshing look a man we have all been seriously worried about, a man all who love football deeply care about and one we are worried that could be another George Best happening in front of our eyes.
However, this whistle stop tour of television Gazza has recently been on was largely positive, which gives the football world hope that the lost boy of English football has finally been found. Furthermore Newcastle fans finally have something to be happy about through these dark times.
Paul Gascoigne, the former England, Newcastle, Spurs, Lazio, Rangers, Everton and Middlesbrough legend was in trouble. This time last year he was on a self destruct mission, indulging in addictions to drugs, drink and prescription medications. This great of the game was blighted by severe depression which ultimately manifested itself in psychotic episodes of paranoia, removal from reality and OCD.
This culminated in multiple apparent suicide attempts and twice being sectioned under the mental health act. The front pages of British tabloids were covered by pictures of Gazza being led out of hotels in Gateshead by police and paramedics. Some of the more bizarre stories about Gazza’s tormented lifestyle consisted of talking to robotic parrots, an addiction to the Nintendo Wii and repeatedly phoning his dad asking for help in chess matches v American presidents.
This all reached a climax in the hardest documentary ever to watch, Surviving Gazza broadcast in January on the UK’s channel 4. The documentary focused on Gazza’s relationship with his ex wife Cheryl and his step children Bianca and Mason also his son Regan. On the impact he had on their lives in the final scenes; under the advice of an apparent “expert” they were told to ditch Gazza out of their lives completely. One of the hardest scenes in it was Paul’s young son Regan saying he wished his dad was dead for the hurt he had brought to his family.
From that to his appearance on Sunday night, the difference is clear as day, sure Gazza looks skeletal at times and maybe is not all there occasionally but he appears to be in his best state for years. He is more cogent than ever and alleges he has been clean for fifteen months and sober for four. No longer is the former BBC sports personality of the year 1990 going on crazy drunken binges with Iron Maiden which were surely killing the England great.
In his appearance on Soccer AM, Gazza was on absolute top form which was brilliant to see. They bigged up his ego which sure might have seemed mad but was very heart warming. They included his goal, possibly the greatest ever scored against my nation in their flagship showboat sequence (highlights of the best bits of footballing skill that week).
The Birmingham fans in the studio repeatedly chanted the Geordie footballers name. In asking Gazza about his former team mates, they brought out the best in the man. He was very intelligent, clever and witty in his talk and produced the greatest responses to that regular line of Soccer AM questioning. This was apparently all thanks to the sporting chance clinic of Tony Adams which appears to have done a great job here.
It was brilliant to see this great of the game getting some sort of public rehabilitation. As he even said himself on his Match of the Day appearance it was to build up confidence. Confidence is vital for anyone in the public spotlight as much as himself and can arguably have just as great an effect on an individual as advice from doctors.
It’s also brilliant that the man is on his way to getting grounded, in his own words his schedule consists of training every morning then eating rice and pasta at his “mams”. Maybe living with his mother was what the man needed, the only person who can maybe fully forgive him for indiscretions and heal this tortured soul.
In being back home he is away from such tomfoolery of the past, possibly harder to associate with idiot drinking buddies like Chris Evans and Danny Baker. The man is never going to live a normal life certainly, but he is on his way to something stable and healthy. Let’s hope the Gascoigne line will get redemption, as there is new hope for that and the revival of Newcastle.
That hope comes in the form of one Cameron Gascoigne, aged seven, nephew of Paul who recently signed a contract with Newcastle United after scoring an incredible magpie (the new term for 22 goals in a single match) in just 30 minutes in a junior game. Redemption for the Gascoigne name, and who knows Geordie’s maybe in a few years this young lad could be your third messiah.