Gazza. If it weren't for the yobbish ways of one of football's less emotionally mature practitioners, there's just a chance that "Five Bellies" as we shall now, in true tabloid speak, refer to him, would be a bit of a Newcastle nobody. As it is, Five Bellies is described as Paul Gascoigne's "loyal friend", and garners copious column inches for going out on drunken binges with the lachrymose midfielder. Welcome to the era in which a bad driver, a cruise ship warbler, a traffic warden, and a publicity junkie engaged to a former Prime Minister's son can all achieve nationwide fame. Now the man who is a tabloid favourite for his carousing sprees with a footballer has embarked upon a strict fitness regime in support of his mate and hopes to continue through Christmas until February. Hold the front pages.
Changing. As we go to press, Five Bellies resembles a lardy patron of an "adult baby" massage parlour, a Brookside fish and chip cook or a blow- up manager of a bouncy castle. Watch out for the lean Lothario who will emerge. Or perhaps not.
There is an entire industry based on the Friends of Gazza. His sometime wife, Sheryl "Shezza" Gazza, has become a Shazza-ish kind of microceleb in her own right since taking up with the weepy bad boy, gaining an agent, and donning monolithic Isabell Kristensen creations at the drop of a lens case. Gazza's former assistant Jane Nottage wrote a book about her time working for him. "I think she fancied me," Gazza countered. "Of all the emotions I feel for Gazza, lust isn't one of them," Nottage replied.
Friend to the Famous
Five Bellies befriended Gazza at age 14 at school. Gazza endowed him with his distinctive nickname ("He used to call me Lard Arse"). Our Geordie hero is 5ft 7in, recently weighed 19 stone, has two sons, is a former Tarmac layer, and managed not to get a single qualification at school. In the autumn, he burnt his nose, thus earning pounds 1,000, in a bet with Gazza involving a lighter. That's about the sum of it. "I would regularly down 14 to 15 pints of snakebite a night," comments our hero of his former lifestyle. "My ideal job would be delivering Red Bull, my favourite drink." Now magazine will be following the progress of Five Bellies' health drive over the winter.
Jimmy "No Bellies" doesn't have quite the same ring. Our hero could return to the lard and become "Ten Bellies". He could become a nutrition expert for local radio. Alternatively, he could elope with Sheryl.Reuse content