Gazza left out of the World Cup

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The Independent Online
PAUL GASCOIGNE, the talismanic England footballer, last night paid the ultimate price for his controversial lifestyle when he was surprisingly dropped from England's World Cup squad, writes Clive White.

Even though the player has been struggling with his form and fitness in recent months, it was thought that the England coach, Glenn Hoddle, would not dare leave out his most skilful player for the finals, which open in France next week.

Clearly Hoddle was disappointed by Gascoigne's level of performances in the friendly matches against Morocco and Belgium in Casablanca last week and has decided to give the creative role in the team to David Beckham. The dead-leg injury Gascoigne suffered against Belgium on Friday was, apparently, not a factor and the reason for his omission was given as "purely a football decision".

Gascoigne found out about his omission from the squad during a meeting with Hoddle at the team hotel in La Manga, Spain, last night. It was reported that Gascoigne was in tears after hearing the news - a mirror of events at the 1990 World Cup in Italy when he wept when England were eliminated by Germany - and that he hurled abuse at the England coach before leaving the hotel for the airport.

An upset-looking Gascoigne arrived last night at the house of his estranged wife, Sheryl, in Hertfordshire, after flying home.

Gascoigne, 31, came in for criticism recently when he was photographed out on the town with his celebrity friends Rod Stewart and Chris Evans when it was felt he should be been leading a more disciplined life.

Also left out of England's final 22 were Ian Walker of Tottenham Hotspur, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt (both of Manchester United), Andy Hinchcliffe (Sheffield Wednesday) and Dion Dublin (Coventry City). All returned to England last night.

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