Football: Round-up: Robson: 'I will help Gazza'

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The Independent Online
BRYAN ROBSON, the manager of Middlesbrough, yesterday admitted Paul Gascoigne was struggling to cope with stress and drink problems, and pledged to help the midfielder overcome his personal crisis.

It was claimed yesterday that Gascoigne enjoyed a three-day drinking binge in the Republic of Ireland this week and returned with a facial injury sustained when falling over drunk. That was only the latest in a series of drink-related incidents and Robson said Gascoigne, who has started all 10 of Boro's matches this season, is being affected by the strain of continually being in the public eye.

"Gazza has got a problem," admitted Robson, a former England team-mate of Gascoigne's. "It's been building up for quite a few years. Everybody keeps talking about the drink and it's a little bit of that because he does get down at times. We spoke about it yesterday and we're trying to do something about. What we're doing about it is private between Gazza, the club and myself.

"We're going to try and help the lad. We're not like some other people saying they want to help him because they've done nothing but try to destroy him for the last six weeks. There's no help coming from the outside. As a club, we're going to get on with that and I'm going to try and help Gazza as much as I can.

Gascoigne has endured a traumatic year, with his divorce from Sheryl, being omitted from England's World Cup squad and seeing his close friend David Cheek die after a night out with him.

"People talk about stress in football and Gazza, in all the years I've been in football, has had more of a high profile than anybody I've ever known. We saw what happened to Princess Di and people said things were going to happen within the media to combat things like that happening again.

"He's been starting to feel real stress and that's part of Gazza's problem. We want to help him combat everything that's happened to him in the last six weeks and play his football. His football's been great," Robson told Sky Sports.

The town of Middlesbrough is to honour another of its heroes, Brian Clough. A plaque is to be unveiled outside the home where one of football's most colourful and successful characters was born 63 years ago.

Clough first made his name with Middlesbrough as a free-scoring centre- forward, with an astonishing goal-a-game average over five successive seasons. After he joined Sunderland his playing career was cut short by a knee injury, sustained against Bury on Boxing Day 1962. In all, Clough scored 204 goals in 222 games.

Clough, introduced to football league management with Hartlepool United, later achieved fame with Derby County and Nottingham Forest, taking Forest to double European Cup glory.

The Mayor of Middlesbrough, Frank Gill, will pay tribute to Clough at the plaque ceremony on 19 October.