‘The only person who can help Gazza is himself’

Paul Gascoigne has made the headlines once again in the last couple of weeks, after his appearance at a charity event in Northampton.

The former England star, 45, shook and sobbed during a question and answer session, which was cut short as a result.
Fans were said to be ‘shocked’ by his appearance.

This prompted DJ Chris Evans, Piers Morgan, and Gascoigne’s ex-Tottenham and England teammate Gary Lineker to raise enough money for him to receive specialist treatment at a rehabilitation clinic in Arizona, where he was immediately admitted to intensive care.

Gascoigne’s problems with alcohol date back to the infamous ‘dentist chair’ incident in Hong Kong, during England’s preparations for Euro 96 and have become more pronounced since the end of his playing career.

He has been admitted into rehab clinics on several occasions and publicly admitted to having problems with alcohol. He was also sectioned twice in 2008 under the Mental Health Act.

Gazza has reportedly told Professional Footballer’s Association chief executive Gordon Taylor that his latest episode is just a ‘blip’ suggesting he is not yet ready to accept his problems.

Taylor said the PFA paid for a detoxification programme for the former Tottenham and Lazio midfielder a few weeks ago, but that he had checked himself out.

They say that alcoholics have to hit rock bottom and realise how low they’ve sunk before they can begin to tackle their problems and comparisons are already been drawn with former Manchester United winger George Best who was given several forms of treatment, including a new liver. Best passed away in 2005 aged 59, after a long struggle with alcoholism.

Many fear that Gascoigne could suffer the same fate and both cases prove that treatment can only do so much; a lot of it is down to the individual.

He has stayed at a clinic in Arizona before on 3 separate occasions. Gordon Taylor said: “There isn’t a player we’ve done more for in my time at the PFA, in fact we’ve been criticised for doing as much as we have, because he hasn’t made the improvements that some of our other members have”.

It would be wrong to give up on a man who inspired so many young people to take up football during the 1980s and 1990s with his dazzling skill and passion, none more so than during Italia 90 when he famously sobbed after being booked in England’s semi- final against West Germany, meaning that he would be suspended for the final.

However, you have to wonder whether he is beyond help. Many sports stars turn to drink and drugs to help them deal with their fame and after their retirement to replace the adrenaline rush. Former Welterweight boxer Ricky Hatton is another example, after being knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in May 2009 Hatton suffered from drink and drug problems and admitted to suicidal thoughts.

He was admitted to Rehab and was able to beat his demons, opening a gym in Manchester to train young fighters and even launching a comeback in 2012.

Many will be hoping that Gascoigne can follow another British sporting icon by beating his demons and turning his life around. It would be a shame to see another footballing legend meet the same fate as George Best, but only time will tell.

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