Featuring: Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker, Jose Mourinho, Wayne Rooney
Special Features: Making Of // Paul Gascoigne Interview // Gary Lineker Interview // Trailer
Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne was born and raised in Newcastle, one of the UK’s most passionate football cities, and my memories of Gazza come from the mid-1990s and in particular Euro 1996 where he shone on the European and World Stage. Prior to this, Gascoigne had really come to the forefront of football at Italia 90 and although England went out in the semi-finals, his tears of heartfelt disappointment connected him to the entire population and things changed quickly as celebrity took over.
Gascoigne, as a documentary, is perhaps more catered for a sport-loving audience but this doesn’t mean that Gazza’s story isn’t an interesting one but here director Jane Preston focuses less on his troubles with alcoholism and more on the man, his experiences and how those around him love him for who he is.
The film runs chronologically from Paul’s growing up in Newcastle, listening to the crowd roar across the city and always having a ball at his feet. What’s poignant here is that with all the highs, there appears to have been devastating lows he encountered at the same time, so his time has always been slightly unbalanced. When he was 10-years old, a friend of his was hit by a car and died at the scene, in his arms. It sent him into shock as a child and from how he tells the story; I still think he feels some guilt now despite it being just a horrific accident. There’s also a moment later during a peak in his career when he was backing people with asthma, advising them that they could play sport, albeit sensibly and with precautions. A friend of his took the advice, but forgot his inhaler, and also sadly died. Over time all these things, including death threats while at Rangers and 11 years of phone hacking by the News of the World, meant the pressure, stresses and paranoia created led to alcohol as a form of escape. None of this was helped either, as he suffered long-term injuries that kept him away from the pitch with far too much time with his own thoughts. When it comes down to it, we learn that all Paul wanted to do was play football, entertain the crowds and live a positive, good life. I still find that the phone hacking a sickening time in ‘journalism’ and I hope those so-called people involved hold all the trauma they caused in their conscience.
Gascoigne was a prodigious talent with skills that would easily make him one of the best players in the world today, and quite frankly at one point he probably was. For me, the documentary shies away a little from his issues with alcoholism but instead we focus on the genius during his football career, which included that FA-Cup Semi-final free kick, that England goal against Scotland to name just a couple.
As Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney and Jose Mourinho all comment within the documentary, he was one of a kind, fearless, warm, hard working and a true unique talent unlike any other. Paul Gascoigne was one of England’s greatest players and most importantly, I’m glad to hear his side of the story. For some who find the Geordie accent a little hard, you can hit up the subtitles but my overall thoughts? We’re proud of you man, your parents definitely were and there’s no doubt the good times have been set in football history forever.
Gascoigne is available to buy on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download on Monday 15th June.