Football: Hoddle defends 'reply' to Gazza

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The Independent Online
GLENN HODDLE last night responded to criticism over his decision to reveal details of his behind-closed-doors meeting with Paul Gascoigne, that ended with the midfield man being left out of England's World Cup squad.

The England coach has been under fire after confidential details of the meeting were disclosed in Hoddle's book, From Glenn Hoddle: The 1998 World Cup Story, which is being serialised in The Sun this week. The Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, had criticised Hoddle, saying it was "pathetic the way everyone is jumping on the Gazza bandwagon."

But a statement issued last night by Hoddle's agent, Dennis Roach, said: "Whilst there is some degree in understanding the concerns of the Middlesbrough manager, I felt it necessary to respectfully point out the following facts on behalf of the England manager:

"It is a fact that on Monday, 1 June, Glenn Hoddle held a press conference in Spain at which he gave a strictly limited version of what had been said between him and Paul Gascoigne at the meeting at which Paul Gascoigne had been told he would not be going to France for the World Cup. That limited version was in defence of the player and would have remained so.

"However, on 2 June, three pages appeared in a national newspaper giving explicit details of Paul Gascoigne's version of what had happened at that meeting. As a result of that article, Mr Hoddle decided it was absolutely necessary to insert in his book the facts of what actually had taken place.

"It would have been impossible to have avoided the issue in any case in any book about the World Cup. But the result of the full version was caused by the article provided by Paul Gascoigne."

Hoddle claimed in the newspaper serialisation that Gascoigne acted like "a man possessed" when he was told he had been axed from the World Cup squad, repeatedly swearing, kicking over a chair and smashing a lamp in the Spanish hotel where the England squad were staying prior to France 98.

The England coach thought the Middlesbrough midfielder was drunk and realised he would be unable to communicate with him. "I thought about trying to talk to him but knew I couldn't, not while he was in this state. He would never take it in," he was quoted as saying.

"He had snapped. He was ranting, swearing and slurring his words. He was acting like a man possessed.

"He seemed to be dealing with it quite well... then he stopped, turned and flew into a rage, kicking a nearby chair. It was a full-blooded volley and I was concerned because he had bare feet. The kick was so hard I thought he must have broken his foot.

"He was a different person now. He had snapped. I stood there and he turned as if to go again, then came back with a barrage of abuse."

Hoddle's attack on Gascoigne drew a swift response from Robson. The Middlesbrough manager said: "People are selling stories right, left and centre. They know that Gazza is high profile and see it as a way of making money."

Gascoigne's advisor, Mel Stein, said last night: "All we have to say is what we said yesterday. We were disappointed and we are still disappointed."

Hoddle also attacked the Blackburn striker Chris Sutton and other players who snub England B. "I don't think anybody should turn down the chance of playing for their country at whatever level. If they do, they don't deserve to wear the England shirt," he said in his book.