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Paul Gascoigne gives heartfelt interview reflecting on his career and troubles

Paul Gascoigne gives a heartfelt interview to the BBC, reflecting on his career and troubles throughout his life to present day.

The former England footballer took part in a new two-part documentary which will be shown on BBC Two later this month.

“This is the real story of my time in football – the good and the bad of who I am – and what really happened around me,” the 54-year-old says, adding: “So much of this has never been seen before.”

Gascoigne was dubbed the most eye-catching English player of his generation and got everyone talking about him and his flair and quirky, working-class Geordie side.

This peaked at the 1990 World Cup, helping England reach the semi-finals as the 23-year-old midfielder became an international star, say BBC Sport.

He departed from Tottenham to sign for Italian side Lazio in 1992, and four years later got the Three Lions in a Euros semi-final.

While we know that part of Paul Gascoigne’s life, there’s another part that dominated just as much in the headlines.

He has struggled with his addiction to alcohol, been found guilty of assault, harassment and racially aggravated abuse and has admitted to domestic violence against his ex-wife Sheryl Gascoigne.

This has been talked about by Gazza across the two episodes, the first one on BBC Two on Wednesday the 13th of April at 21:00 BST, with episode two a week later. Both will be available on BBC iPlayer from 21:00 BST on Wednesday the 13th.

The first ep brings up a tragic story of childhood trauma that affected Gascoigne deeply.

At just 10 years old, he held one of his friend’s younger brothers in his arms as he died.

Gascoigne had been moving Steven Spraggon to a local shop when he was knocked down by an ice cream van.

His family say in the film about the impact it had with his sister Anna saying: “Paul blamed himself. He’d wake up screaming in the night.”

Gascoigne’s mother Carol said her son developed a stutter after the accident.

Another part of the interview sees Gascoigne’s old Tottenham team-mate Paul Stewart feature, looking back on playing together from 1988-1992 and won the FA Cup.

In 2004, Gascoigne wrote in his autobiography about his struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia, depression and Tourette’s syndrome.

This is something Stewart picked up on, seeing one of his compulsive behaviours in the dressing room one time, but said they didn’t stop ‘Gazza’ being “the best player in the world” at the time.

“I did see that he would just gorge on food and make himself sick,” he says. “I just thought it was one of Gazza’s traits. He would develop twitches, he’d check doors umpteen times.

“I had no idea it was a condition – I just thought it was Paul.”

Stewart also had problems with addiction during his playing career, and in 2016, revealed he had been abused as a child by his football coach.

BBC Sport reveal one line that wasn’t shown in the final documentary, with Stewart saying: “We were all dealing with our own things.”

Gazza’s ex-Middlesbrough and England teammate Paul Merson also talks in the documentary, talking about his own struggles with alcohol, substance and gambling addiction, sympathising with Gascoigne, understanding just what he was going through.

“We understood each other,” says Merse. “We got on. We had the same problems.”

Stewart recalls a time when there was a different side to sharing a dressing room with Gascoigne.

“Paul used to invite most of Dunston down to London,” he says.

“We’d go straight from training to the hotel bar, getting drunk on the football club and Paul and I signing all the bills.”

There is another story when Gascoigne joined Lazio for around £5.5m, had a hero’s welcome, but not everything went smoothly with Jane Nottage – his personal assistant at the time – saying his behaviour got increasingly erratic, with problems arising in his relationship with Sheryl, who would go on to be his wife.

She spoke on how he would go AWOL before a friendly against Sevilla, he had a temperature the day before the game and was sent home from training.

“Next day, he’s gone missing,” she says.

“It turned out the kids wanted to go to Euro Disney, so he just got on the plane and left. Eventually, we arrive something like 45 minutes before kick-off. He hasn’t had sleep, he’s been stressed from the flight, he’s had alcohol.”

Despite this, he scored a superb goal and when Nottage asked him how he had done it, she says: “He just looked away and shook his head and said, ‘I can’t remember anything about it’. I think at that point, I understood he was struggling.”

A tough subject talked about Gascoigne’s violence towards wife Sheryl after she was pictured with a black eye and had bruises over her face and arm in an attack at Gleneagles in 1996.

Sheryl was asked to appear in this interview, but she didn’t want to. Director Sam Collins said it was very important for them to “try to tell her side of the story, with the material available”.

Paul Stewart again speaks, remembering how he found out that Gascoigne had been abusing Sheryl, when their families were on holiday together.

“Sheryl came down with dark sunglasses on and told my wife he’d hit her that night,” he says.

“Paul and I didn’t speak for seven, eight months.”

Gascoigne says: “There are definitely lots of things I look back on with sadness – things I’ve done that I wish I’d done better or not done.”

Paul Gascoigne breaks down in tears after son Regan's Dancing On Ice  routine - OK! Magazine

Paul Gascoigne breaks down in tears after son Regan’s performance on Dancing On Ice

In 2011, the News of The World ceased printing after allegations of phone-hacking emerged.

Paul Gascoigne was left paranoid after private messages on his phone were hacked.

Former editor and chief executive Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges, however two journalists who were punished feature in the documentary.

Graham Johnson, acting as a whistle-blower, was handed a suspended sentence, and Greg Miskiw was given a six-month prison sentence after being found guilty of hacking phones.

Both speak in the film about how they’d invade public figures and celebrities’ phones getting private information, including Paul Gascoigne and his family.

“I formed a relationship with a detective agency,” says Miskiw. “I could make one phone call and within two hours I could have bank details and voicemails.”

Miskiw adds that Gascoigne was one of the first to fall prey to these “dark arts” and he was “easy meat” while Gascoigne’s sister Anna says story leaks led her brother to become feeling extremely nervous and worried believing that other people do not like you or are trying to harm you.

“He would have private conversations with my mam, then the next thing you knew it was in the papers,” she explains.

“I know that he fell out with my mam massively and we just thought he was paranoid.”

Paul McMullan, another former journalist, says: “The guy ends up diagnosed with extreme paranoia, when the reality was, it wasn’t paranoia, it was genuinely true.

“We put the paranoia there.”

Paul Gascoigne fights back tears on ITV Good Morning Britain - Liverpool  Echo

Paul Gascoigne gives heartfelt interview reflecting on his career and troubles

Paul Gascoigne also spoke about how he loved being in the public eye at times during his career.

“Opening shops, switching on the London lights, recording Fog on the Tyne, doing adverts… I enjoyed every minute of it and I was still performing on the pitch.

“At the time people – or parts of the press anyway – criticised me and said I was doing too much, but my football was as good then as it ever was.”

Though also shared the negative side of it all: “The press would follow us and our family and it was difficult to go out and about sometimes with constantly being followed by sometimes hundreds of cameras.

“A lot of the stories the press would print weren’t true; and they’d make stuff up about me and that would then cause me problems.”

When questioned what he hopes viewers will take from the film, Gascoigne responded: “Hopefully they’ll take away from it, the great times I had.

“There’s a lot that wasn’t good or perfect, but when it comes to the past, you can’t change it and have to take the bad with the good things that you’ve done, and the good things I would repeat in a heartbeat.”

SEE MORE: Paul Gascoigne left visibly emotional after scoring in legends match

In the summer of 2021, Ally McCoist revealed Paul Gascoigne is now in a “great place” after years of battling alcohol addiction.

McCoist said: “It’s the best I have seen him and the best I have heard him in years.

“He was on the Italian celebrity jungle and when I got him he was self-isolating in a hotel in Milan.

“I got him on the Zoom and I was chuffed to bits because he looked brilliant and he sounded brilliant.

“When I spoke to him I could tell he was in a great place, he was firing on all cylinders.

“I mean I was asking him questions about Gareth Southgate and he was telling me stories about the time he bought his dad a boat and all that.

“He was on brilliant form and I was delighted. It was just magic to catch up with him.

“I did some preparation beforehand and I had my questions but then I was thinking to myself ‘I won’t need this’.

“I think I looked at my paper once, I was just asking him a question and away he went and that was him for five or 10 minutes.”

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