Football: Gascoigne `only addicted to football'

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PAUL GASCOIGNE'S adviser, Mel Stein, yesterday denied suggestions that the Middlesbrough player had a drink problem and insisted: "The only thing he's addicted to is football."

Tony Adams, Gascoigne's England colleague, suggests in his autobiography Addicted that the former Rangers player was suffering from the "illness of addiction". He describes Gascoigne's reaction when he was left out of England's World Cup squad by the coach, Glenn Hoddle.

"Gazza was an ill man and Glenn did not understand properly the illness of addiction, even if he tried to deal with it the best way he could," wrote Adams, a former alcoholic who has sought help through Alcoholics Anonymous.

But Stein said: "The only thing Paul's addicted to is playing football. He played on Saturday and I'm told, by people who were there and don't have an axe to grind, that he actually had a good game and was the most creative person on the pitch."

The news follows controversial revelations in Hoddle's own World Cup book about Gascoigne's reaction to being told he had been left out of the squad for France earlier this summer. And two weeks ago a close friend of the former Lazio player died in his hotel room after a night out with Gascoigne near Newcastle.

But, despite the continuing controversy surrounding his client, Stein believes he is focused entirely on the job at hand, namely keeping Middlesbrough in the Premiership.

"Paul was in my office for five hours recently and he was very, very focused. In fact I had to twist his arm to get him to leave training an hour early to come down for the meeting. I can't understand what all the fuss is about, all they've done is rehash a bit of his [Adams'] biography."

Peter Shreeves, the Sheffield Wednesday assistant manager, has left the club by mutual consent. The former Spurs manager, who worked as Glenn Hoddle's assistant at Chelsea, joined the Owls in the summer of 1996, and was initially working under David Pleat.

Following Pleat's departure last November, Shreeves had a brief spell as caretaker manager and was then retained by Pleat's successor, Ron Atkinson. When Wednesday decided to part company with Atkinson in May, Shreeves was assured of a place in the new managerial set-up.

But Danny Wilson, the new Sheffield Wednesday manager, has decided to appoint Frank Barlow as his assistant, which has prompted Shreeves' decision to leave Hillsborough.

Dietmar Hamann, the Newcastle midfielder, will be out of action for two months after suffering ligament damage in Sunday's 4-1 defeat against Liverpool.

The German international, signed from Bayern Munich in the summer, limped out of the St James' Park game after just 12 minutes before Newcastle collapsed in Ruud Gullit's first game in charge. Hamann has flown back to Germany to receive further treatment.