It is shocking to see Paul Gascoigne being
dragged out of hotels and into ambulances to be put in secure
accommodation over-night, with the stigma of the Mental Health Act
procedure of being "sectioned" hanging over him.
Believe me, it is not a simple procedure to
get two doctors to sign the paperwork to section someone. So, why
has it happened to Gazza twice in a matter of months ?
Does his fame make him a more acceptable
target for the procedure to be put into place or does it mean that there
is a more genuine care for his safety and future than perhaps there is
with other less well known cases ?
I am sure it has been done for the right
reasons, but with Gascoigne going down a different spiral to George
Best, he might be in a self-destructive downward trend that he could
find it impossible to get out of. You would hope that the PFA or
the Tottenham Hotspur Trust could make a direct approach to Paul to try
and offer help to one of their own.
The buzz of the crowd, the dressing room
banter and the thrill of that extra special piece of magic on the
pitch coming off are what keeps players playing, but when it comes to an
end, what next ? Many players say it is impossible to replace and
for some players like Gazza, who appears to have an addictive
personality, it is something else that replaces that buzz with something
not as wholesome.
Paul loved to be loved.
Witness his fooling around and his
relationship with the fans. The sheer joy of the celebration after
scoring from that free-kick against Arsenal at Wembley in 1991.
His reception of the adulation of the crowd when the 1990 World Cup
squad returned to Luton and he appeared with the false breasts on the
open top bus.
Were these experiences replacing things
that he had missed in earlier years of his life ?
Out on the greensward, he was a master of
his own universe. Gascoigne could control what happened to the
extent that his performances in the 1991 FA Cup run almost
single-handedly took Tottenham to the Final, where he was so-hyped up
that it all went wrong for him. And maybe that was the beginning
of the end.
Injury ... not being able to play ...
knee injury at night club ... hangers on taking the place of team-mates
in the dressing room ... distractions outside of the game that he loved
and loved him ... a foreigner abroad, not able to adjust to the new
country that was to be his home ... back home and drink taking a bigger
part in his life ... hitting his wife and the break-up of his marriage
... string of newspaper stories about his failure to hold down jobs he
Perhaps what he really needed when he
left the game was a coaching role with youngsters.
Anyone who ever saw him with young kids
will realise that he was in his element. He felt at home with
them, as he was nothing more than a big kid himself. Also, they
adored him and he would have had so much to give to them in terms of
showing them his tricks and how to play.
But when his playing stopped and he
failed to hold onto a coaching job at Boston United and a management job
at Kettering Town, mainly because of his drinking, the offers dried up
(which is what he could have done with doing) and his friends faded
away. leaving him alone and vulnerable to being preyed on by those who
wanted to make a name for themselves.
it is a real shame that the game to which
he gave so much and made the game what it is for footballers of today
after the explosion of Italy 1990, now shuts it's doors to him.
Yes, as stronger personality than Gascoigne might have pulled through
and done something after retiring from playing, but the support systems
are not there for ex-footballers just as they are not there for the
mentally ill in this country.
Maybe something needs to be done about
both of those issues.
THE FUNKY PHANTOM