Saturday 22 October 2016

Paul 'Gazza' Gascoigne: Whenever I heard about the Gaza Strip on the news, I'd think what have I done now?

Former footballer Paul Gascoigne
Former footballer Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne has revealed he used to get paranoid hearing the Gaza Strip mentioned on the news because he feared it was another negative news story about him.

The former England footballer - known as Gazza - has opened up about his life and career in a new documentary film Gascoigne, which has its premiere in London tonight.

The 48-year-old from Gateshead equalled the British transfer record when he moved from Tottenham to Italian club Lazio in 1992, and went down in history for his tears in Turin when he realised a yellow card in the World Cup semi-final against West Germany in 1990 would rule him out of the final if England had won that match. The Germans prevailed in a penalty shoot-out and went on to win the tournament.

But he has also battled mental illness, drugs and alcohol addiction. He was sectioned by his family when he became convinced his phone was being hacked, but last month won victory in the High Court as one of the celebrities awarded damages for phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers.

Gascoigne told the Press Association: "I had a great career. There have been parts since I stopped playing that I've really enjoyed, and then I get knocked down again for no reason.

"Sometimes it's got to the stage now where I hate Saturday nights, because jack s*** knows what's coming in the papers on Sunday.

"I tell you what was the worst one, the Gaza Strip. You know the term the Gaza Strip, remember that? That was murder for me. I'd be sitting there having a shave and that, and the news would come on 'And the Gazza...' and I'd be like 'What's that?!' and I realised it was the Gaza Strip. I couldn't wait for that to end."

The new film, written and directed by filmmaker Jane Preston, charts Gascoigne's rise from a young boy kicking a tennis ball on the streets of Gateshead, through his rocky career, marred by injury and much-hyped transfer deals, and overcoming the lows of his addiction.

Gascoigne said: "I've given stuff in this movie that I've not told anybody, I'm welling up now (talking about it).

"I might seem nice and calm and relaxed and happy now, but come seven o'clock tonight I'm going to be s****ing myself, going 'how is it going to come out?'

"But I'm pleased it's out. I haven't seen it. I know what it's like 'cause I lived it. So it will be very emotional watching it tonight."

Featuring Gary Lineker, the film also celebrates what a talented player and goalscorer Gascoigne was, as well as a fantastic entertainer, for both fans and team-mates.

Gascoigne said: "I just wanted to do this for the reason that not everything in my life was rosy. Even from a young age what I've had to cope with, what I've had to put up with and still come through it. Whether it be injuries, whether it be rehab, whether it be taking drugs years ago.

"And I'm not wanting to be proud of... some of the things I've let myself down, but people think, 'Why's he doing this?' Because I had illnesses, I had problems.

"But my football side of it, people forget. I had 20 years of playing football and entertaining fans."

:: Gascoigne is released in cinemas for one night only, tonight and on DVD from Monday June 15.

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