Football: Tears and a locked room: the aftermath of the axe

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The Independent Online
IT ENDED as it had begun, in tears. And then, as so often in Paul Gascoigne's career, it got messy. Gascoigne, according to leaks from within the England camp, reacted to his axing from the World Cup squad by locking himself in his room in despair. Only with the assistance of other players were England able to coax him out, and then put him on a plane back to England.

When Gascoigne was called, early Sunday evening, into the hotel room England's coaching staff had been using for their planning, he expected to hear the usual pep-talk from the England coach, Glenn Hoddle - "You should be doing better, but I still believe in you, together we can make you great again.''

Instead Hoddle dropped the bombshell. He had had enough, Gascoigne had used up all his chances, he was not going to France.

Gascoigne was stunned. "There were tears in his eyes and he was very disappointed but he did not get abusive," Hoddle said. "It was not an enjoyable job. With some players I had quite a long chat but with Paul it was a matter of two to three minutes.

"There was no point in discussing anything else with him, such as what he should do next, or to tell him that he still had a future with England. He was not going to take anything in. He shook my hand, then went to his room where he was consoled by some of his friends in the squad.''

Gascoigne's first reaction was to telephone his estranged wife, Sheryl, whose Hertfordshire home he went to when he arrived back in England on Sunday night. Then he is understood to have locked himself in his room.

Eventually, midfielder Paul Ince and goalkeeper David Seaman talked him into letting them in before they helped him out to the bus which was waiting to ferry him, and the other five dropped players, to the airport.

Hoddle, asked if Gascoigne's behaviour amounted to a tantrum, replied: "Not necessarily. He reacted as I expected.''

Of the other five, the Manchester United full-back Phil Neville was the worst affected.

"He was also in tears," Hoddle said. "He was so cut up he was unable to speak." His brother, Gary, consoled him.

"It was a strange day and a difficult one for all concerned," Hoddle added. "But afterwards I walked into John Gorman's room and there, on the television, was a news report about an earthquake in Afghanistan in which thousands of people had been killed. It put everything into perspective.''