Gascoigne's Italian career in the balance

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

Paul Gascoigne, the troubled England footballer, was sent off yesterday while playing for his Italian club, Lazio, increasing speculation that his move abroad may come to a premature end.

Gascoigne lashed out at an opponent, Genoa's Mario Bortolazzi, 20 minutes from the end of an Italian league game. There was an angry, finger-wagging exchange between the two players which culminated in Gascoigne's dismissal. The match was watched by Graham Taylor, the England manager. Gascoigne will appear before a disciplinary commission in Milan on Wednesday and is expected to be suspended for a fortnight.

Dino Zoff, the Lazio coach, said: 'He didn't kick the player. There was just a bit of elbowing and Gascoigne pulled him over. It was just one of those things.'

Gascoigne, who became a national figure with his brilliant and occasionally tearful performances for England in the 1990 World Cup, is playing his first season in Italian football, having joined the Rome club from Tottenham for pounds 5.5m.

Despite having to recover from a serious knee injury, Gascoigne made an encouraging start but in recent weeks his problems have grown rapidly and publicly. He played poorly for England in last month's game against San Marino, prompting criticism of his increasing bulk and decreasing fitness.

He was fined recently by Lazio for deliberately belching on television, and only this weekend came reports that two of Lazio's other foreign players, the Germans Thomas Doll and Karl-Heinz Riedle, had complained to Zoff about the preferential treatment accorded to the Englishman.

Joe Lovejoy and photograph, page 28