Football: Gascoigne victim of muddled thinking

PAUL GASCOIGNE may be hailed in some quarters as a footballing genius, but public perception of his powers of rational thought are less than flattering according to a survey which rates the Middlesbrough and former England midfielder as Britain's least intelligent person.

The often troubled player polled 31 per cent and topped the list ahead of the model Melinda Messenger, who pulled 10 per cent of the votes. Anthea Turner, the former Lottery presenter, came third with eight per cent, closely followed by the Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and the former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell.

The same research revealed the Virgin tycoon Richard Branson is seen as the country's most intelligent person, securing a 20 per cent backing and pipping the author Stephen Hawking into second place by one per cent.

Carol Vorderman, the numerate television presenter, finished third on 17 per cent, ahead of the wildlife expert David Attenborough and inventor Clive Sinclair.

The 1,004 people questioned for the survey for the scientific magazine Focus were also asked who they thought was the most intelligent politician in Britain.

Prime Minister Tony Blair topped the poll with 25 per cent of the votes, with Margaret Thatcher following in second place with 22 per cent.

The Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown came third with five per cent, one per cent ahead of the Chancellor Gordon Brown and former Prime Minister John Major, who share fourth place.

As for sporting figures, the former Pakistan captain Imran Khan heads the list with 17 per cent of the poll, with the ex-England striker and television presenter Gary Lineker two per cent behind.

FOCUS MAGAZINE POLL: Five least intelligent personalities in Britain (figures in per cent): 1 Paul Gascoigne 31; 2 Melinda Messenger 10; 3 Anthea Turner 8; 4 Ian Paisley 7; 5 Geri Halliwell 6. Top five most intelligent sportsmen: 1 Imran Khan 17; 2 Gary Lineker 15; 3 Glenn Hoddle 9; 4 Roger Black 7; 5 Michael Atherton 6.