Future looks great, insists Gascoigne

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The Independent Online

Troubled Paul Gascoigne said today he was on the road to recovery after a stint in rehab.

The former Tottenham and England footballer, who is fighting a well-documented battle against alcoholism and depression, said he had been on the wagon for three months.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper, Gazza said: "I was staring into the abyss, but now the future looks great for me. I can't say I will never drink again - all I can say is that I didn't drink today and I hope I don't drink tomorrow."

Sporting a tan, the 41-year-old Geordie was speaking after a spell in a rehab clinic set up by former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams.

Describing in detail the drink and drug binges that led to him being sectioned under the Mental Health Act three times in the past 12 months, Gazza said 2008 had been the worst year of his life.

He admitted drinking hundreds of bottles of wine and gin over a six-week period following a hip replacement operation in December 2007.

"I can't remember exactly why I had the first drink after surgery - or when. I was just down due to the op, it was Christmas and I wanted a drink. I had a couple of wines and it went from there," he said.

"After about a week I was struggling to look after myself so I moved into the Marriott hotel, Gateshead. The drinking was getting worse, bottle after bottle of wine topped up with miniature gin bottles from the minibar. But I would not get drunk - it's hard to for alcoholics."

He also recalled taking cocaine in the toilets of a London nightclub and how, at one point, he became so deluded he thought his toy parrots were real.

Fearing he would kill himself, his sister Anna called police after hotel staff found him asleep in the bath.

He said: "I was so down and really drained. I would burst into tears for no reason, I seemed to be sinking and I didn't care.

"Anna obviously thought I was going to do something silly as next thing I knew five PCs barged in and dragged me naked from the bath. I think I asked if I could finish my bath as I hadn't washed my hair. I didn't want to be dead, but I was so down and couldn't see any way out."

Gazza, who famously burst into tears after being handed a yellow card during England's 1990 World Cup clash against Germany, said of being sectioned: "I couldn't believe it. I'd gone from being a national hero to a mental hospital. I'd never felt so embarrassed and ashamed."