Date:Friday February 22 2008
Yep, I know Paul Gascoigne has no connection with Pompey other than the fact we crossed paths with him a couple of times with him being a Spurs player in the early 90s and he was 'linked' with a move to us a couple of times in the 90s but I find the way his life has gone since his footballing career ended devastating...
I did not really get into football fully until the late 80s, and although as a 6 or 7 year old I did see parts on the 86 world cup, the world cup Italia 90 was my first crystal clear memory of a major international tournament and although Euro 2006 was absolutely fantastic this still just eclipses that as my 'proudest moment' as an England supporter.
Gazza was my idol as I grew up - in all honesty I still have a small poster from Italia 90 on my bedroom door! - what a world class footballer he was and some of these 'so called' world class performers these days are not and never will be a patch on him, in terms of skill and ability there are very few, if any Englishman that have been better or ever will be.
1990 was his world cup, who will ever forget the look on his face when he got booked against Germany, and old big ears Gary Lineker looking over to the bench for guidance on how he should be watched - yet he still gave his all to try and get us into the final, sadly it was not to be. Then of course their were the tears...
Fast forward to Euro 2006, the years in between were basically ruined in the main by injuries - which probably prevented him from going down as one of the real, and I mean right at the top of the tree greatest footballers ever to play the game - but he was absolutely outstanding and again his and England's performances deserved more than the semi final exit we again got, his goal against Scotland - what can you say!
When the 98 world cup came round I remember I was on my way to college - for one of my numerous courses that in all honesty I had not really made the most of! - when I was made aware of the fact that Gazza had been axed by Glenn Hoddle, I could not believe it and I still maintain to this day that as poor as that squad was at that tournament, granted there were a lot of good players, just his mere presence would have made a lot of difference and we would not have crashed out in the 2nd round as we did.
This is when things virtually hit rock bottom and have gone from bad to worse since, ending in what has happened this week.
At that time the local paper The Evening Herald had a 'was it right to leave him out' feature so I wrote a letter, which was one of only 2 to be published, I was chuffed and still have this now. I argued for him being selected, another argued against.
Gazza's life has taken a downward spiral over the years, but since his footballing career finished - something that he just could not let go - this has been even worse, and he has now been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, which has left me saddened beyond belief...
Granted Gazza is no angel, he has done plenty of bad things over the years, and things that cannot be brushed aside but I do feel that many of these things are down to the 'hangers on' that he just will not or cannot for whatever reason shift, these are meant to be his friends so why are they not helping him like friends?
Clearly the fella misses the game, he misses it more than most could imagine. Some people can move on when their career ends, he cannot. There are arguments that 'he needs to be given a job within football', whilst this cannot be given out of 'pity' for all of his off the field problems one of the greatest talents this country has ever produced would surely have something to offer a club somewhere, or kids that are coming through? Some involvement in the game would surely also help sort out his problems with drink and so on?
As I say, I know the connections for Gazza and Pompey are only thread bare through meetings with Spurs, Terry Venables and his connections with us, which also brought about links with Pompey both under him and in later years but I just felt I had to share my thoughts on the fallen star, who I grew up idolising.
Some 'will argue it is his own fault', to a very limited degree I could understand this but I really hope that he can get better and can get his life back on track, as like I say although he has done some bad things in his life his genius deserves more than he has got and his run of misfortune has surely gone on long enough...
PLAY UP POMPEY - AND GET WELL SOON GAZZA!
Date:Friday February 22 2008
Humble Steve Coppell (Friday December 13 2013)
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