Gazza: A football icon's downfall in 39 steps (a few stumbles and a couple of punches)

Paul Gascoigne is the George Best of his day, both on and off the pitch. His latest attempt to rescue his career lasted just 39 days. By Steve Bloomfield and Lauren Veevers
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The Independent Football

Paul Gascoigne lasted just 39 days as manager of non-league Kettering Town before his problems with alcohol became too much. The Independent on Sunday has pieced together the ups and downs of the former England star's troubled five and a half weeks in charge.

1 Paul Gascoigne, the star of the 1990 World Cup and one of the greatest footballers of his generation, is appointed manager of Kettering Town, a non-league football team playing in the Conference North division, in a blaze of publicity on 27 October. Imraan Ladak, the club's new 27-year-old chairman, says Gascoigne is his hero.

2 A healthy-looking, slim-line Gazza arrives at Kettering's Rockingham Road ground to a hero's welcome. In his first game in charge, Kettering beat Droyslden 1-0. Gascoigne's arrival was also proving to be a success off the field. The club's attendance doubled, from 1,000 to 2,000.

3 The four-star Kettering Park Hotel, 10 minutes' drive outside the town, has a swimming pool, spa and gym. But for Gascoigne, the main attraction is the bar. After his first match, he retired to the hotel's Dissenters Bar to drink white wine.

4 Launches his new DVD, Gazza's Golden Balls - highlights of great goals he has scored during his career, plus "hilarious" anecdotes from former colleagues. It is currently 1,146 on the Amazon sales chart.

5 Gascoigne returns to the Kettering Park Hotel after training on every Tuesday and Thursday. Bar staff recount how Gascoigne "knocks back bottles of white wine and shots of brandy".

6 Gazza appears on Channel 4's Richard & Judy. Presenter Richard Madeley comments on how good it is to see Gascoigne looking healthy and happy.

7 Kettering lose 3-1 to Stevenage Borough in the first round of the FA Cup. "There's always next year," Gazza says. "And the year after that. And the year after that."

8 Following defeat in the FA Cup, Gascoigne says he is having sleepless nights worrying about Kettering Town. But he says he is drinking only coffee - "It used to be a double whisky."

9 A reporter on the local paper, the Kettering Evening Telegraph, says Gascoigne struggled to stay off the booze. "He was always off his face when I saw him, even in press conferences," he says.

10 Gascoigne tells reporters that he will play for Kettering once he is fit. "I'm probably 80 per cent physically," he says. "Mentally... well I was never fucking mentally there anyway." The team bounces back from the disappointment of going out of the FA Cup by beating league rivals Stalybridge Celtic 4-1.

11 Gascoigne ventures into the Beeswing, a pub right next to Kettering's 6,000-capacity ground. Although he only ever buys one glass of wine himself, fans buy drinks for him. Jim Wykes, the pub's landlord, says the former England international was failing to stay sober. "The evil of booze took over once again. It is a terrible shame for him and the club. He never came back drinking in here but we all know that he hit the bottle."

12 Kettering draw 2-2 away to Hednesford Town. Most Hednesford fans miss their team's first goal after 50 seconds because they are crowding around the tunnel trying to catch a glimpse of Gazza.

13 Gazza is back in the Kettering Park Hotel, this time with Jimmy "Five Bellies" Gardner - his ubiquitous sidekick who has been friends with Gascoigne since they were children growing up in Gateshead.

14 The euphoria that the players felt when Gascoigne took over wears off. Striker Christian Moore says: "It was a difficult time for everyone at the club and I can't say I enjoyed it. People had reservations before Paul came because of his history, and we found out pretty quickly that those reservations were well founded."

15 Another draw away from home for Kettering Town. They drew 1-1 with Vauxhall Motors. Gascoigne is disappointed. "If I feel I need to make changes I will because I'm the person who makes the decisions at this club," he says.

16 Propping up the hotel bar again - even though he wasn't staying there. "Footballers stay here quite often but we very rarely see them in the bar - they usually go straight up to bed. But not Paul," says a barmaid. "We saw quite a bit of him over the past few weeks. Even when he wasn't staying with us he would use the bar."

17 Kettering's away form fails to improve at Redditch United, who beat them 2-1. Gazza says: "We are all disappointed but it is no use ranting and raving at the lads because I have been proud of what they did."

18 Now a regular at Kettering Park hotel, which is becoming his home from home. Staff say he forgoes the wine and spends most of the night drinking brandy.

19 Club chairman Ladak tells Gascoigne's agent, Andy Billingham, he is worried about the star's drinking.

20 Kettering finally win another game. They beat Gainsborough Trinity 1-0. Gascoigne's head coach, Paul Davis, admits they are both "still on a learning curve". Gazza goes for a drink to celebrate.

21 Ladak tells Gascoigne to stop drinking. Warns him he "could end up paying with his life".

22 In Kettering Market Place, Gascoigne shares a stage with Scooby Doo, the Fat Fairies and "local hero" Wicky Bear to turn on the Christmas lights. The town's mayor, Councillor Matt Lynch, says it is a "fantastic night", but it is later alleged that Gazza was drunk and swore at a child asking for an autograph.

23 Gazza's last game in charge. Kettering are beaten 3-1 at home to Barrow. Gascoigne refuses to speak to the press - hours later he is out of a job.

24 Gascoigne is sacked as manager of Kettering Town. Ladak claimed he has been drinking "before, during and after training and matches".

25 Gascoigne denies he was under the influence of alcohol. "I did, however, have a double brandy before the match on the day after my friend George Best passed away and, after the defeat last Saturday, I had a glass of wine."

26 Ladak says that Gascoigne had left the club after "37 incidents I have had to deal with since the appointment of Paul Gascoigne as manager".

27 Gazza claims the chairman interfered in team selection, texting suggestions and asking him to put players in different positions. Ladak says he was "joking" and Gascoigne thought it was all "good fun".

28 Gascoigne is arrested last Monday night outside Hope Street Hotel in Liverpool for allegedly attacking a photographer, Steve Farrell. He had been in Liverpool to speak at a fundraising event for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.

29 Imraan Ladak claims the only investment Gascoigne made in the club was £20 he gave to a couple of volunteers. "He once gave me £80 until I got the money out of my wallet which I had left in the car," he adds.

30 Gascoigne is released on bail on Tuesday. By Friday, the photographer has withdrawn his complaint, saying: "I am a big footie fan and admire Gazza - he's got enough problems and I don't want to add to them."

31 Gascoigne had planned to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on Tuesday. Having spent the previous night in jail, he wasn't able to turn up.

32 The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) offers Gazza help if he wants it. The PFA's chief executive, Gordon Taylor, says: "I have done nothing but try to help Paul throughout his career. I am a bit worried but I think he will be OK."

33 Any attempts by Gascoigne to prove his sobriety disappear when he goes before the news cameras on Monday. Glassy-eyed and unsteady on his feet, the former international rambled incoherently: "This last year's been tough, regardless me ex-wife, me ex-kids, everything ... everything I've had to deal with to get better, with me neck, with everything, I was on death row, erm, pneumonia, everything ..." he said. "So what I had a double brandy ... I tell you the truth, yeah, I had a double brandy before the game. Before it used to be four bottles of whiskey, it's not any more. I had a double brandy before the game and that was it."

34 Gascoigne threatens to turn up to Kettering's next game against Alfreton Town and give instructions from behind the dug-out. He fails to show.

35 Gascoigne attempts to buy the club from Ladak. "I'm Paul Gascoigne and I take charge of this club. The club is mine and I love the fans and I love the players and the players are behind me." The chairman refuses to sell.

36 After Gascoigne's appearance on Sky Sports News, pundits and columnists weigh in with their views on the former England star's predicament. In one of the more bizarre nuggets of information, the Daily Star's Vanessa Feltz recounted how she last saw him at Jordan's and Peter Andre's wedding, where they danced together.

37 Kettering travel five hours north to the Lake District yesterday to play AFC Workington. Their goalkeeper is sent off and they are defeated 3-2.

38 Gascoigne will return to Kettering this week. He will attend a fundraiser on Wednesday evening for 340 people where he will recount tales of his glory days playing for England, Tottenham and Lazio.

39 Since his interview on Sky Sports, Gascoigne has been alcohol-free. An insider said he was spending the weekend with friends and advisers and would seek help when he feels ready.

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