TROUBLED FORMER England football star Paul Gascoigne has said he can overcome the demons which saw him admitted to hospital in a drink-fuelled stupor.
The ex-Tottenham Hotspur favourite, whose legacy on the pitch has been overshadowed by alcohol and drug attractions since retiring a decade ago, was treated in hospital in Dorset when he suffered a relapse last week after spending the previous seven months clean.
Gascoigne, 46, known as Gazza, maintained that he did not want sympathy or pity – and was determined to stop drinking for good. He said: “I know I can overcome this. I am an alcoholic so I am taking one day at a time, but I will get there.”
Gascoigne admitted he turned to drink after being served with an eviction notice on his flat in the up-market area of Sandbanks in Poole.
He claimed people had been leaving alcohol on his doorstep in the weeks leading up to his latest “blip”.
He added: “Up until a few weeks ago, I was doing great.
“I have an illness and I had a bad moment. Now I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Since retiring from football, Gascoigne has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and has described how, when he hit rock bottom, he was snorting cocaine and drinking a litre of gin a day, which left him delusional and afraid to leave his room.
The former England player went public about his continuing battle with addiction in 2009, revealing he had been clean of drink and drugs for four months, taking part in the 12 Steps Programme and attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
Other high-profile incidents involving alcohol included being sacked as manager of Kettering in 2005 after he was accused of being drunk at games.
He also appeared at the scene of the stand-off between the police and gunman Raoul Moat in 2010.
Arriving in Rothbury, Northumberland, Gazza claimed he was a friend of Moat and said he had brought him “a can of lager, some chicken, fishing rod, a Newcastle shirt and a dressing gown”.
But he is still remembered by fans of the clubs he played for – including Newcastle United, Lazio, Rangers, Everton and Middlesbrough – for his brilliance on the pitch.
He starred in midfield for Terry Venables’ England side during the Euro 96 competition, where his virtuoso goal against Scotland was topped off with an equally memorable celebration.
Six years earlier he was seen crying on the pitch after being booked in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup against West Germany; the booking making him unable to play in the final, although England crashed out of the tournament after losing in the semi-final.