Wednesday 26 October 2016

Gazza: I'm in a good place

Published 09/06/2015 | 04:36

Paul Gascoigne at the world premiere of the film at The Ritzy in Brixton, south London
Paul Gascoigne at the world premiere of the film at The Ritzy in Brixton, south London

Fifteen years after realising he was an alcoholic, former England footballer Paul Gascoigne has said he is "in a good place", adding that he prays he does not pick up another drink.

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An emotional Gascoigne fought back tears on a number of occasions as he answered questions after a film on his life, troubles and career was screened.

He said watching some of the footballing scenes made him feel "like a kid again", after years spent battling mental illness, drugs and alcohol addiction.

Gascoigne's 90-minute documentary was written and directed by film-maker Jane Preston. It includes contributions from Gary Lineker, Jose Mourinho and Wayne Rooney, who described Gascoigne as the best player ever to have worn an England shirt.

It charts his rise from a young lad kicking a tennis ball on the streets of Gateshead, through his rocky career, marred by injury and much-hyped transfer deals, and overcoming the lows of his addiction.

During the 30-minute Q&A which followed the screening, Gascogine, affectionately known to fans as Gazza, criticised the press for printing "lies" about him and claimed he had again been a victim of hacking "a few weeks ago".

His claim came after the former Tottenham player won victory in the High Court last month as one of the celebrities awarded damages for phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers.

He told those gathered in south London: "I don't look for perfection, I look for progress."

He added: "I'm in a good place at the moment, I'm happy and I'm enjoying life, may it continue, but sometimes I find it hard when I wake up in the morning and there's lies written about us again."

Gascoigne said he was 33 when he realised he was an alcoholic, having been confused as to why when he woke up at 5am after a night out he would still want another drink.

Now, aged 48, he said he is determined to remain strong.

"I just pray I don't pick up another drink, I don't want to but I just stay strong for you guys ... I love the world, I love the people in it and the most important bit, you know, today I love myself."

Earlier he pleaded for troubled former England and Arsenal star Kenny Sansom to stay in rehab, saying it is his best chance of kicking alcohol into touch.

Gascoigne, who urged Sansom not to "do a runner" from the detox clinic, was speaking after media photographs showed the dishevelled 56-year-old swigging from a bottle and slumped in a park.

The Professional Footballers' Association have confirmed that former England defender Sansom has entered a detox programme and will be given all the support he needs to beat alcoholism and a gambling addiction.

The documentary Gascoigne is available on DVD from Monday June 15.

Press Association

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