Paul Gascoigne is 45 years-old and is currently in rehab in America, for what seems like the fiftieth time. Affectionately called ‘Gazza’ by adoring Newcastle and England fans, he is considered one of the greatest English footballers of his generation, unfortunately I was too young to see him in his peak. Due to my age, my only knowledge of ‘Gazza’ seems to have been watching his decline and struggle with alcoholism on the news. Apart from the occasional playback of his deft-touch, skinning Scotland’s Colin Hendry, and leaving him for dead.
David Beckham is just eight years younger and is 37 years-old. He has just signed for his fourth permanent team; Paris Saint Germain. Donating his entire £3m wage to local children’s charities in Paris. I have been fortunate enough to have seen Beckham in his prime. From his half-way line goal against Wimbledon, when was very young. To his wonder-strike free-kick against Greece, that every England fan must remember.
What I am trying to get at is; despite only eight years difference, they are light years apart in their lives. Yet they have both enjoyed being fantastic footballers. The only difference is that Gascoigne unfortunately suffered from a weakness to alcohol. Meaning their entire careers have diverted in completely different directions.
I have always been a staunch believer that alcoholics have nobody to blame but themselves. Itis their weakness that leads to the addiction.
However, with Gazza, my opinion is weakened.
This is largely because of the fact that Gazza suffered with his footballing career coming to an end. He ate, drank and breathed football. Only, at the age of 31 for someone to take that away from him. Waking up one morning and realising his skills, pace and control was leaving him. Making him and older footballer, compared to the Beckham’s, Owen’s and Fowler’s that were starting to make big names for themselves. Gazza couldn’t understand that this was it.
His weakness to the bottle got worse and worse, and we all know the rest.
I here you say ‘but Brian Clough got injured at a similar age, and knew he would never play again, yet he made himself a legendary manager why should we feel sympathy for Gazza’.
People have different feelings, different emotions and different weaknesses.
He has once again submitted himself, voluntarily into rehab. You can see he wants change.
We need to support one of England’s most skilful players ever. A legend.