PAUL Gascoigne has battled with alcohol addiction and mental health issues for more than 20 years, with a number of controversies keeping him in the spotlight even after he retired from football.
The troubled ex-England midfielder has been in-and-out of hospital and rehab in a bid to “get free of his demons” – here’s the lowdown on the highs and lows of his life…
PA:Press Association Wire Gazza is a well known former England football star
Who is Paul Gascoigne? What is his background?
Paul Gascoigne was born May 27, 1967 and is a former England football star.
Since he retired, Paul – affectionately known as Gazza – and his public struggle with addiction has made front-page news.
But as a talented player, he also adorned the back pages, and has been described as the most naturally-gifted English footballer of his generation.
The 51-year-old was born and raised in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, starting his career at Newcastle United as a schoolboy before turning professional with the club in 1985.
He had a troubled childhood, and his early life was spent sharing a single room in a council house with his family.
When he was ten, the brother of a friend Steven Spraggon was killed by an ice-cream van while out with Gazza – something he felt was his fault and left him wracked with guilt.
He developed a twitch, was unable to sleep and started stealing to fund an addiction to gambling machines.
But despite being taken into therapy, he quit the sessions after his dad expressed doubts over the treatment.
Gazza was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001, and has also suffered with obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and bulimia.
News Group Newspapers Ltd Gazza became a cult hero in the 1990s thanks to his outlandish behaviour, but it hid a dark struggle with addiction and mental illness
Who did Gazza play for?
In 1988 he joined Tottenham Hotspur for a record British fee of £2.2million, winning the FA Cup.
His club career took him to Lazio and later Rangers, where he won two Scottish titles and two trophies.
Gazza returned to the Premier league to play for Middlesborough and Everton, followed by spells with Burnley, Gansu Tianma in China and non-league side Boston United, retiring from professional football.
He spent two months as player-coach at the newly-founded Portuguese team Algarve United, but a contract never materialised so he left.
Gazza made his England debut in 1988 and was capped 57 times, scoring 10 goals and helping his side to the semi-final of Italia ’90.
It was during England’s semi-final clash with West Germany that Gazza won the hearts of fans after a booking caused him to burst into tears on the pitch.
The yellow card meant he would have been banned from playing in the final if England had made it, but they went out on penalties.
In October 2005 he was appointed manager of Conference North club Kettering Town, lasting just 39 days.
The club’s owner claimed Gazza drank almost every day during his tenure.
In 2010 he was almost appointed manager of Garforth Town but turned down the offer.
Getty Images Gazza’s ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration poked fun at his rumoured antics during a boozy night out which saw him lauded in the press
What controversies has Gazza caused?
Gazza became known for his outlandish celebrations – which include the ‘dentist’s chair’ in Euro 1996, mimicking an infamous team night-out which saw him allegedly strapped to a chair while a barman poured tequila down his throat.
But the consequences of another of his celebrations were much more sinister than a few tabloid front pages.
Gazza received a death threat from the IRA after his infamous “flute-playing” antics while playing for Rangers in a powder-keg Old Firm clash in 1998.
It was a reference to the protestant Orange walk marchers playing the Sash – and an attempt to wind up the home crowd at Celtic Park.
The police even gave him a special mirrored device to check under his car for bombs in the aftermath of the game.
One of the troubled star’s most bizarre antics came during murderer Raoul Moat’s stand-off with police.
Gazza revealed he snorted 14 lines of cocaine before attempting to intervene in the armed siege – bringing a fishing rod and cooked chicken.
Moat shot his ex-girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend before blinding policeman David Rathband by blasting him with a shotgun.
He said later that after seeing the Moat stand-off on the news, he became convinced that he was his friend – despite not knowing him – and that he needed to help him.
At the time, he told Metro Radio: “I just want to give him some therapy and say ‘come on Moaty, it’s Gazza’”.
Fame Flynet Gazza admitted being high on cocaine when he felt compelled to try and peacefully intervene in killer Raoul Moat’s armed stand-off with police
What other controversies has Gazza been involved in?
Gazza gained a reputation as a playboy and party animal during his playing days in the 1980s and 1990s and after:
In October 2010 he was arrested for drink driving and admitted to being four times over the legal limit. Then, one day after receiving a stern warning that he could face jail time, he was arrested again – this time for cocaine possession. After a couple of spells in rehab, Gazza was again arrested in 2013 after assaulting a railway security guard in Stevenage while drunk. And after a seventh stint in rehab in 2014, he was sectioned later that year under the Mental Health Act. But by far one of the ex-Spurs ace’s most controversial moments came in September of this year, when he was fined for humiliating a black security guard with a racist joke. The fallen star was fined £2,000 after admitting to telling the bouncer, who was standing in the shadows at the side of the stage: “Can you smile please, because I can’t see you?” The judge slammed Gazza over the comments, which were made in front of an audience of more than 1,000 people, saying: “To racially abuse someone for the sake of public entertainment is a very serious matter.@” Gazza swore on a breakfast BBC Radio 5 Live show as he was reunited with his former England team-mate Chris Waddle. Waddle told Gascoigne to “start talking proper now”, to which 51-year-old Gascoigne said: “I’m a Geordie, how the f*** can I speak … ooh sorry, how can I speak properly?” Gazza has since apologised.