The FA, Paul Gascoigne and Help

  • A Lion who’s seen better times.
  • Will it all end in tears?

Yet again, Paul Gascoigne has been in the English media headlines in recent weeks for all the wrong reasons. The 42 year old midfield maestro of yesteryear who looks the worst part of 60 was arrested twice in a week, once for public disorder and then again for being drunk in charge of a vehicle.

Gascoigne’s misadventures on the wrong side of the law are nothing new to football supporters. Gazza seems to be arrested at least once or twice a year for the last five or six years straight. The former Newcastle United, Spurs and Lazio play maker spoke of his problems battling alcoholism, bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and even bipolar disorder in his 2006 autobiography, Gazza: My Story.

We all have personal and health problems, but it was Gazza’s inability to occupy himself when not playing football that led to his increasing health problems. The lack of purpose in his life when he wasn’t playing football and after his retirement led to his heavy drinking and off the field problems that have been so widely publicized and scrutinized by the media and the public.

Gascoigne’s declining physical and mental health have been paramount in his numerous arrests over the years. Gazza’s rap sheet is by now a mile long, and I cringe a little each time I hear his name mentioned in the news or see his name in the headline of articles. I wonder in fear what will happen next if someone doesn’t step in and help him, even if it is for the third, fourth, or fifth time. It’s unfortunately been proven that Gazza doesn’t possess the abilities to manage himself, his health, his drinking or his wild behavior. I don’t know much about his immediate family situation, whether they’ve stepped in to help or not, but why can’t the FA intervene into the life of one of their brightest sons?

The question comes down to responsibility. Whose is it? Gazza’s failed at being responsible for himself, and the help he’s received in recent months and years obviously hasn’t been enough or been precisely what he’s needed to achieve a full recovery. Football fans have seen this story unfold before. George Best, the incredible talent that he was, suffered from alcoholism and ultimately succumbed to his own personal demons and died way before he should have. A sad tragedy that the football community hopes won’t repeat itself anytime soon.

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  1. The Three Lions February 19, 2010
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