British Soccer Legend Suffers Public Relapse

By John Lally 02/04/13

A video of Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne incoherent at a charity event sparks wide concern.

Many are worried after Gazza's public
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Concerns are mounting over the health of British soccer star Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne after a video emerged of him shaking and rambling incoherently at a charity event late last week. It shows the 45-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur and England player incoherent and drunk, slurring, “I’ve been on a whiskey diet.” His agent tells BBC Radio 5 Live, “He immediately needs to get help. His life is always in danger because he is an alcoholic.” The creative midfielder ranks as one of the best talents English soccer has produced, capturing the nation’s hearts in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against Germany, when he was reduced to tears after receiving a yellow card—which meant that he would have been suspended for the final had England won. But his struggles with alcoholism have led to a string of problems, including a 1996 divorce after drunkenly hitting his ex-wife, and emergency surgery on a perforated stomach ulcer in 2007. The following year, he was twice sectioned under the UK’s Mental Health Act and taken into protective custody to prevent self-harm. The Players' Football Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, says that he fears Gazza could be following the path of another great British player, George Best—who died at 59 following his own battle with alcoholism. Gary Lineker, Gascoigne’s former teammate with Tottenham and England, tweeted: “Lots of you asking for my thoughts on Gazza's plight. I can only hope he finds peace somehow, but fear those hopes may be forlorn."

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John Lally writes about politics, sports and telivision. You can follow him on Twitter.