Kevin Garside: A different era of minders may just have saved Paul Gascoigne from himself

Jimmy Fivebellies, Danny Baker and Chris Evans were his think-tank

Peter Schmeichel tells us that the football family should come together in aid of Paul Gascoigne. Sadly it might already be too late for Gazza, a frail psyche married to a talent arguably as great as any England have produced in the post-World Cup years.

The corrosive elements inherent in fame and fortune that corrupt the weak and unsuspecting have had their wicked way with Gascoigne, a man who gave in to his appetites all too easily. At his peak, when he and the Jimmy Fivebellies show offered light entertainment to the football masses, Gascoigne's puerile buffoonery, the belches and the tongue-out pranks, were tolerated as expressions of an immature man-child. We have known differently for a long time but remain powerless in the face of the unrelenting enemy that is his addiction to alcohol.

That telling nod of Gary Lineker's towards Bobby Robson and the England bench in Italy 23 years ago was a prophetic alarm call alerting the world to the impending doom not of England's immediate World Cup semi-final prospects against Germany but Gascoigne's future. It held within its knowing expression a sense of unfolding that would become a tragi-comedy of Shakespearean proportions, embracing any number of extremes, from wife-beating to mournful entreaties to murderers: "Come on Moaty, lad, it's Gazza."

On the same day as Gascoigne was falling apart at a function in Northampton, David Beckham was holding court in Paris. Beckham has reached a high point of celebrity where simply to appear is an event. Football is no longer the point. It hasn't been since he left Real Madrid six years ago. Behind him Beckham has more advisors than team-mates. Where his genius once centred on the ability to bend it like, well, Beckham, his unique selling point now is to convey a sense of relevance where there is none.

In contrast, the think-tank plotting Gascoigne's route through the fame game extended no further than Fivebellies, celebrity football fan and radio personality Danny Baker and broadcaster Chris Evans, all of whom had his best interests at heart on their Friday nights out but no plan. No blame attaches to them. Gascoigne was not their responsibility.

Beckham's attachment to a pop princess of the moment was the life-changing accident that exposed him to a world that understood the value of visibility over talent. Through the strategic manipulation of a willing and avaricious media, a construction with all the substance of balsa wood becomes a concrete reality in gullible minds. And so just as Victoria and her Spice Girls were able to sell themselves as a force of empowerment for the further emancipation of the global sisterhood, so Beckham is, through the device of a charitable donation, able to assure his passage into sainthood.

The transformation requires in the audience an absence of a critical dimension, exemplified by this response from Le Monde. "The former captain of the England team has an extraordinary understanding of space and distribution in the game, a brilliant technique and excels in the art of the long cross. 'Becks' has an exceptional personality: like Best, without alcohol, the genius of Gascoigne, kindness and more, and the iron determination of Keegan, but warmer. But the personality of David the Magnificent far transcends his talent."

At least Gascoigne was given a walk-on part in Le Monde's Beckham fantasy. It may be that his deep personality flaws were always going to be beyond the help that football could offer. But perhaps the checks and balances imposed by the image-makers in the modern age might have eased or at least offered Gascoigne more protection as he negotiated the frenzied height of fame.

Gascoigne would have felt the same sense of empowerment as Tiger Woods, whose indulgence of his base instincts did not involve the complicating agency of alcohol and led to a remarkable act of contrition in a televised confessional straight out of a Hollywood soap. It was as plausible as the Beckham sainthood and the Spice Girl revolution, but that doesn't matter as long as enough people buy into the message.

It was a long road back but Woods plays golf again now without reference to his tawdry habits in the 19th hole. Meanwhile Gascoigne is left to battle the grim ravages of alcoholism in relative isolation.

Even if Schmeichel's appeal were answered, the damage is done. Gascoigne is condemned to teeter on the edge of existence, the victim of a talent and a personality over-indulged in his youth.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit