Former footballer Paul Gascoigne has revealed he was “not prepared” for the emotional impact of watching a documentary about his life. The biography programme, which aired on November 15th, saw Gascoigne open up in what is considered to be one of his final interviews before passing away last July. It recounts how Gascogne’s career collapsed after suffering from alcoholism and depression following persistent injuries sustained over 20 years in football. In the interview it becomes apparent that Guy Ritchie had been helping him through difficult times with regular phone calls and visits during filming.
Paul Gascoigne says watching a documentary about his life was “emotional”..
|Episode one of ‘Gazza’ premieres on Two on Wednesday, April 13 at 21:00 BST, followed by episode two one week later. On Wednesday, April 13th, at 21:00 BST, both will be accessible on iPlayer.|
“It was quite difficult to view everything again. Some things are difficult to see, while others bring back pleasant memories of my pals.”
Paul Gascoigne, the former England player, is reflecting on a new two-part documentary on his life and career, which will air on Two later this month.
“This is the true tale of my life in football – the good and terrible of who I am, and what truly occurred around me,” says the 54-year-old, adding, “So much of this has never been seen before.”
With his flair and quirky, working-class Geordie personality, Gascoigne was the most eye-catching English player of his time, capturing the country’s attention.
At the 1990 World Cup, ‘Gazzamania’ reached new heights, with England’s journey to the semi-finals transforming the then 25-year-old midfielder into a worldwide superstar.
In 1992, he left Tottenham to join Lazio in Italy, and four years later, he helped England reach another semi-final, this time at the Euros.
But Paul Gascoigne’s narrative does not end there.
For example, he has fought with drinking.
He has also been convicted of assault, harassment, and racially aggravated abuse, as well as admitting to domestic violence against his ex-wife Sheryl Gascoigne at various occasions.
Much of this is discussed throughout the course of the two episodes, as well as another significant theme: Gascoigne’s tumultuous relationship with the tabloid press.
‘Paul used to wake up screaming in the middle of the night.’
We learn about a horrific narrative of childhood trauma that greatly influenced Gascoigne in the first episode.
He died at the age of ten, holding one of his friend’s younger brothers in his arms.
When Gascoigne was hit by an ice cream van while accompanying Steven Spraggon to a neighborhood store, he was killed.
In the film, his family discusses the effect it had.
Anna, his sister, says: “Paul put the responsibility on himself. In the middle of the night, he’d wake up screaming.”
Carol Gascoigne, Gascoigne’s mother, claims her son acquired a stutter as a result of the event.
‘I assumed it was just Paul,’ says the narrator.
In 1988, Gascoigne bypassed Alex Ferguson to join Tottenham Hotspur for a British record transfer price of £2.2 million.
Paul Stewart, Gascoigne’s former Tottenham teammate, is among those featured in the documentary; the two won the FA Cup together from 1988 to 1992.
Gascoigne talked about his difficulties with obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia, depression, and Tourette’s syndrome in his autobiography in 2004.
Those obsessive behaviors were seen in the locker room, but Stewart claims they did not prevent ‘Gazza’ from being “the greatest player in the world” at the time.
He recalls, “I did observe that he would basically gorge himself on food and make himself ill.” “I simply assumed that was one of Gazza’s characteristics.” He’d get twitches and check doors a million times.
“I didn’t realize it was a disease; I simply assumed it was Paul.”
Stewart, like many others, struggled with addiction throughout his career, and he claimed in 2016 that he had been assaulted as a youngster by his football coach.
“We were all coping with our own stuff,” Stewart recalls sadly in a statement that did not make it into the finished documentary.
One teammate who did understand Gascoigne was Paul Merson, who has been candid about his own battles with alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction.
They played for Middlesbrough and England together.
“We were on the same page,” Merson adds. “We were able to communicate. We were having the same issues.”
‘We’d go directly from training to the hotel bar,’ says one participant.
In the first episode, there’s a narrative of Gascoigne being lost in Italy in 1990, only to be discovered playing football with local kids on the beach.
Stewart explains what it’s like to share a dressing room with Gascoigne from a different perspective.
“Most of Dunston [the region west of Gateshead, north east England, where Gascoigne grew up] used to come down to London,” he explains.
“We’d go straight from training to the hotel bar, get drunk on the football club, and Paul and I would sign all the bills,” says Paul.
We show photographs of one of Gascoigne’s buddies or team-mates (it’s impossible to tell since they’re wearing a mask) sprinting about Tottenham’s training facility absolutely nude to highlight the wild events.
‘He left because the kids wanted to go to Euro Disney.’
Gascoigne was greeted as a hero when he joined Lazio for about £5.5 million, a large sum at the time.
His behavior grew more unpredictable, according to Jane Nottage, his personal assistant at the time, including troubles in his relationship with future wife Sheryl.
She also reports of his going missing before a friendly versus Sevilla.
Gascoigne was sent home from training the day before the game due to a fever, according to Nottage.
“He’s gone missing the next day,” she claims.
“He immediately got on the aircraft and went because the kids wanted to go to Euro Disney. We arrive at the stadium around 45 minutes before kick-off. He hasn’t had any sleep, is agitated from the travel, and has consumed alcohol.”
Despite his unusual preparation, he would score a spectacular goal. Nottage remembers questioning him about how he did it.
“All he did was look away, shake his head, and say, ‘I can’t remember anything about it,’” she recalls. “I guess I realized he was suffering at that moment.”
‘There are a lot of things that make me unhappy when I think about them.’
The film tackles a number of difficult topics, including Gascoigne’s abuse of his wife Sheryl.
Sheryl was seen with a black eye and a seriously damaged face and arm during an incident at Gleneagles in 1996.
The documentary crew sought Sheryl for an interview, but she rejected. Director Sam Collins said that “trying to present her side of the tale with the resources available” was critical.
Sheryl Gascoigne divorced Paul in 1998 after a series of domestic violence episodes. Since then, she’s worked with female survivors of domestic violence.
And Stewart recalls finding out that Gascoigne had been beating Sheryl when their families were on vacation together.
He claims that “Sheryl came down with black shades on and promised my wife he’d strike her that night.”
“It had been seven or eight months since Paul and I had spoken.”
“There are certainly a lot of things I look back on with grief – things I wish I’d done better or not done,” Gascoigne adds.
‘At first, we assumed he was simply being paranoid.’
After charges of phone hacking surfaced in 2011, the News of the World halted publication.
Since Gascoigne’s playing career ended, it has been revealed that his phone’s private texts were hacked, which he claims pushed him to serious paranoia.
Rebekah Brooks, the former editor and chief executive, was exonerated of all allegations, but the documentary features two journalists who were disciplined.
Graham Johnson, who served as a whistleblower, received a suspended sentence, while Greg Miskiw, who was found guilty of phone hacking, received a six-month jail term.
In the video, both men discuss some of the unethical ways they and their colleagues used to gather information on celebrities, including the Gascoignes.
“I established a working connection with a detective agency,” Miskiw explains. “I could make one phone call and obtain bank account information and voicemails in two hours.”
Gascoigne, according to Miskiw, was one of the first to fall victim to these “dark arts,” and he was “easy meat.”
During the film, Gascoigne’s sister Anna claims that her brother became paranoid as a result of tale leaks.
“He’d have private discussions with my mother, and the next thing you know, it’s in the media,” she says.
“I know he had a major falling out with my mother, and we simply assumed he was paranoid.”
“The man ends up being labeled with terrible paranoia, but the fact was, it wasn’t crazy, it was actually true,” says Paul McMullan, another former journalist.
“We implanted the paranoia.”
‘They’d make something up about me,’ says the narrator.
During his career, Gascoigne stated he enjoyed being in the spotlight.
“Opening stores, turning on the lights in London, recording Fog on the Tyne, performing commercials…” I was still performing on the field and loving every minute of it.
“At the time, many – or at least elements of the press – chastised me and claimed I was overdoing it, but my football was as excellent as it had ever been.”
He does, however, mention the negative consequences.
“The press would trail us and our family around, and it was impossible to go out and about without being trailed by dozens of cameras at times.”
“A lot of the reports in the press were false, and they’d make things up about me, which would cause me difficulties.”
“Hopefully they’ll take something from it, the amazing moments I had,” Gascoigne adds when asked what he thinks viewers would take away from the film.
“There was a lot that wasn’t nice or perfect, but you can’t erase the past, so you have to accept the bad along with the wonderful things you’ve done, and the good things I’d do again in a heartbeat.”
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