Gazza: Triumphs, tears and the betrayal of an English football superstar

Gone fishing. A man and his penis, the pitiful carapace of the exuberant clown who courted the limelight and never escaped it, drag themselves towards the camera.

Then the credits roll – and the glorious nostalgia for those glittering feet, garden watering tears and insatiable stupidity gives way to sadness at a superstar’s betrayal on the altar of stardom. Paul Gascoigne brought much of his misfortune on himself, drinking on the 7.30am train from Stevenage to Darlington every Monday, on his way to another week of training in Middlesbrough, England unrestrained recklessness of his tackles in the 1991 FA Cup final.

And a new authorized two-part documentary does not gloss over the demons of an admitted wife-beater. But there’s also the feeling that, for all the authenticity of his genius on the pitch, Gascoigne was abandoned by most “friends” – famous or not – when the music stopped.

Now 54, Gazza was moved to tears by the final montage of the BBC’s chronicle of a 10-year span – from the rise of Gazzamania at the 1990 World Cup to his violent tantrum in the hotel room of England manager Glenn Hoddle after his exclusion from the 1998 tournament.

His lingering regret? “Wounds, they killed us,” he said. “That, or maybe playing in China – it was really interesting to be there, but it was definitely not my highlight in football. I really wish I had managed to play in another FIFA Cup. world. There are certainly a lot of things that I look back on with sadness, things that I have done that I wish I had done better or not done, also things that have happened to me, but you cannot go back. back, you must continue.

Current England gamers hoping for guidance on the trappings of fame, from paparazzi hiding in trees or car boots to phone hacking and opportunists with phone cameras, will be none the wiser from the two-hour compilation of the archives. But between the goals and the blunders, the excesses and the bravado, there are plenty of backline reminders: Paul Gascoigne was a wonderful footballer, up there with the Boys of ’66 among our national treasures.



Betrayed: Gascoigne now lives alone on the south coast



Garden watering tears: Gazza at the 1990 World Cup

And he doesn’t regret his scenic road to glory – at least not the games with a ball at his feet. Gazza said: “I loved it, to be honest. Opening shops, turning on the lights of London, recording Fog on the Tyne, doing commercials. I enjoyed every minute. The highlight I think was the World Cup in Italy, the fans were phenomenal, I had a great time playing football with my friends, the weather was great, I had a great time.

“I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been, and I even managed to have a few games of tennis and a few cocktails on the sly when Bobby Robson wasn’t looking. It was really moving to look back at everything. There’s a lot of things that weren’t right or perfect, but when it comes to the past, you can’t change it…and the good things I’d repeat in a heartbeat.

*Gazza, Wednesday April 13, BBC 9 p.m. and BBC iPlayer