Tuesday, February 21, 2017

21 February 2008 - Gazza's Days Get Darker

On 21 February 2008, former England star midfielder Paul Gascoigne's tragic battle with alcoholism and depression resulted in his compulsory admission to a mental hospital for treatment. Unfortunately for all involved, it did little good and he continues to struggle with his problems.

Gascoigne, popularly known as "Gazza," enjoyed a remarkable career that started in 1985 with Newcastle and included spells at Tottenham (1988-92), Lazio (1992-95), and Rangers (1995-98), among others. Meanwhile, he was capped 57 times by England between 1988 and 1998, including a standout performance in the 1990 World Cup that sparked "Gazzamania" back in England.

But throughout, he struggled in his personal life with addiction and other issues, including depression and bipolar disorder. His problems grew worse after his retirement in 2004, followed by a short and unsuccessful spell as manager of Kettering Town that ended with his sacking in 2005 after only 39 days in charge. He claimed later that he was drinking up to four bottles of whisky and vodka per day.

In February 2008, police were called to the Newcastle hotel where he was staying while recovering from a hip operation. After he threatened to harm himself, he was taken into custody and compelled to enter a mental health facility. But by the end of the year, he was again deep into his alcoholism, reportedly drinking up to 30 cans of beer per day.

After promising signs of recovery in 2009, Gascoigne again relapsed in 2010, culminating in two separate October arrests for drunk driving and possession of cocaine. A series of rehab attempts and relapses followed, most recently by his January 2017 entrance into a new rehab program. 

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