Football: Adams unable to join Gascoigne's celebrations

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The Independent Online
There was a time when Paul Gascoigne would have been distraught at the thought of Tony Adams missing his birthday party. Such a noted liquid trencherman would have been a valuable addition.

Things have changed - one hopes permanently for Adams, probably temporarily for Gascoigne - and Gazza's disappointment at Adams missing last night's 30th birthday bash was as a footballer and a friend, not a fellow tippler.

While Gazza was given a welcome present with the news that his calf, though fattened by Linda Buthelezei's attentions, was probably recovering quickly enough to allow him to play against Poland on Saturday, Adams learnt that he will not be there. He failed a fitness test on his troublesome ankle and was sent home to rest for the summer.

Two conclusions can be drawn from this. First, it confirms the seriousness of an injury which, if aggravated, could threaten Adams' career just as it is enjoying an Indian summer. Second, the fact that Hoddle should have given the Arsenal skipper this long to try and prove his fitness reveals his importance to England. Saturday's match will require men of bravery, ability and experience, and few meet those requirements as well as Adams.

One who comes close is Paul Ince and Hoddle was thus perturbed to discover that the Internazionale midfielder picked up a knee injury playing against Napoli at the weekend. He is not ruled out, but is a doubt.

With one captain out, and another doubtful, Hoddle was relieved that Gascoigne, an inspirer if not a leader of men, was recovering. Indeed, Gascoigne felt so jovial he was even prepared to share 20 minutes of his birthday with the press.

Not that he was in generous mood. The press, he said, could force him into retirement and had been responsible for him ceasing to enjoy the game.

"Glenn Hoddle talked about my needing to be in love with the game and I agree. I was just turning up, wanting to win and get the 90 minutes over. I was not enjoying it because the press never gave me a chance. I was always getting hammered.

"I used to go on the pitch worrying about having to do this or that - beat three men, score a goal - or I'd be slaughtered. Now I get slaughtered, however I play, so I may as well go out and enjoy it. I started enjoying the game with the testimonial matches I played. I asked David Busst if I could play in his. I have enjoyed my career, if someone said 'would you turn the clock back 10 years if you could?' I would say no."

For one who claims not to read the papers any more, Gascoigne seemed aware of recent critical comment. "If I keep getting hammered I might retire. I'll play as long as I'm happy, when I think I've had enough I'll do what's best for me," he added.

It has been suggested Gascoigne might retire after the World Cup, when he will be 31, but he would not be drawn. As to his Rangers' contract, he said: "I have a year to go. I have told them I am concentrating on England. We will talk about it when I get back, but they want me to stay."

Returning to his main theme, Gascoigne added: "A lot of players do things outside football but none of them get photographers up their arse, hassling their wife and blinding their kids with flashguns."

Gascoigne has a justified point but he is not alone, David Beckham was clandestinely pictured with his girlfriend, Victoria (Posh Spice), in the tabloids yesterday. And Beckham did not sell his wedding pictures to Hello! or take part in a self-publicising fly-on-the-wall documentary.

And the birthday? Gascoigne's only comment, in reference to last year's high jinks in Hong Kong, was: "I've had my teeth done, so I won't need the dentist's chair."

More football, page 27