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THE ANDY WARREN COLUMN: Gazza needs to help himself before it's too late
I’M REALLY not sure what to think about the plight of Paul Gascoigne. While on the one hand it is incredibly sad to see a man idolised by so many in such a bad way, fighting for his life.
On the other, it’s hard to have sympathy for someone who has been given so many second chances and failed to take any of them.
I’m ever so slightly too young to really remember Gascoigne in his pomp in the late 80s and early 90s, so I find it hard to have the emotional attachment to him others have, which can often bring out the rose-tinted glasses when it comes to all the incidents which have brought him front page headlines over the years.
He isn’t Gazza anymore, he isn’t a footballer, he isn’t that cheeky Geordie we all know and love. He is a man named Paul from Newcastle who needs urgent help to save his life.
The incident with Raoul Moat, a six-pack of beer, a bucket of chicken and a fishing rod brought him back to the public’s attention and left him open for ridicule, ignoring the real issue that the man is mentally ill.
While he is lucky to still have the love and support of his friends, there have been many other areas of modern life who have not been so helpful.
The national media continue to publish photographs of Gascoigne looking frail and weak, comparing him to the footballer who once was the idol of an entire nation.
He isn’t that person now, and he needs to be given the space to recover without everyone expecting him to still be the bubbly character who is the life and soul of the party. It is being that person that got him into this mess in the first place, remember.
I have never had a real addiction, I don’t know what it’s like, but from the experiences of friends and acquaintances, what I do know is that alcoholism is something which should not be taken lightly. In many cases an alcoholic isn’t just someone who loves to be drunk, it is a mental illness which is not given the attention and ‘respect’ it deserves.
But you have to help yourself, and Paul hasn’t done that.
Both during and after his football career he has time and again put himself in situations he must surely know are not going to end well for him, and one day he will probably pay the ultimate price for that.
There is of course a lesson here for young footballers like Swindon Town’s Miles Storey, who has had his taste of the limelight at a young age already this season.
Making it as a professional footballer at the top of the game comes with plenty of perks these days, but look where these perks can get you in the long run.
Miles is one of the most level-headed and grounded young sportsmen I have ever met, who I am certain will not have these problems, but there are so many out there who could.
We need to look after our young talents, and help them learn from the mistakes of the ones who have gone before them.