Gascoigne's glory days over after turning to alcohol

(L-R) S.S. Lazio president Claudio Lotito and former player Paul Gascoigne greet S.S. Lazio fans during the UEFA Europa League Group J match between S.S. Lazio and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Stadio Olimpico on November 22, 2012 in Rome, Italy.
(L-R) S.S. Lazio president Claudio Lotito and former player Paul Gascoigne greet S.S. Lazio fans during the UEFA Europa League Group J match between S.S. Lazio and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Stadio Olimpico on November 22, 2012 in Rome, Italy. Paolo Bruno / Getty Images

JUST like the late, great George Best, former England, Spurs and Lazio star Paul Gascoigne has become a victim of his own success.

Sadly too, just like Best, he is also a victim to the demon drug - alcohol - and, just like best, it could kill him.

Recent stories about Gascoigne, now 45 and a shadow of his former self, do not make good reading for a man who once was the hero of a generation as Best was in the 1960s and 1970s.

Ask an English football fan what they remember most about the 1990s and they will talk of Gascoigne or Gazza as he is fondly known, and his brilliance when England got to the World Cup semi-final in Italy in 1990 and his tears when the team got knocked out on penalties to eventual winner and old foe Germany in the semi-final.

They will also talk about his brilliant play at the Euro 96 tournament in England when once more he led the team to the semi-finals again only to be beaten in a penalty shootout by the Germans once more.

But if you asked a football fan the same question about Gascoigne now the reply would be something like he's an alcoholic and a shambles of a man.

Gascoigne was a hero of mine too and it is sad to see the way he is heading now and I for one don't want him to end up the way Best did - dead well before his time.

Like I say, fame was Gazza's downfall.

He was considered the best player of his generation, but his career was scarred by a series of tabloid scandals - leading to claims he did not always enjoy the success his talent deserved.

It must have been hard for him to have to and be expected to perform to the best of his ability in every game and be the one who led his team to success.

Sadly for Gazza that ultimate success never came in an England shirt and that might be, along with his retirement from the game, what ultimately turned him to alcohol.

Reports in English newspapers this week have a former flatmate saying Gazza was drinking two litres of gin and 15 cans of Stella Artois a day before he was taken to a rehab clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

There were also reports that Gascoigne was close to death after a reaction to the detox program.

I for one do not like seeing these stories and pictures and wish he could be left alone to fight his demons and win his biggest battle.

Sadly because the way the media is, his every move will be documented and every slip-up will be reported.

What I am glad to see is the current crop of England players doing their bit to help out the fallen star.

A collection of England players and FA bosses have given $60,000 to help pay Gascoigne's US hospital costs.

Their donation was via the national team's own official charity, the England Footballers Foundation and even before that gesture, the likes of Jack Wilshere, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Wayne Rooney gave money to support Gascoigne.

England skipper Steven Gerrard is apparently the leading light in helping Gazza and good on him for helping out.

I am just hoping all the help Gascoigne is getting is not too late.

Topics:  alcohol football soccer

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