Paul Gascoigne set to play for Sunday League side after chance meeting whilst buying cigarettes

The former England international will play for Abbey FC

Paul Gascoigne is set to make his return to football after a journey for cigarettes led him to meet taxi driver and Abbey FC manager Chris Foster - who convinced the former England international to sign for the Hayward Sunday League side.

The 47-year-old enjoyed a memorable professional career which saw him represent the likes of Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers, whilst also becoming a firm favourite among many England supporters.

Gascoigne, who has been plagued by alcoholism and drug addiction, last played professional football a decade ago when he made five appearances for then-League Two side Boston United.

But now he is set to lace up his boots once again after Daren Hills, secretary of the Bournemouth Football Association, confirmed to Press Association Sport that his registration has been received.

Foster wants Gascoigne to turn out as often as possible for the Division Four outfit after explaining how he set about completing the coup.

"I have picked him up a few times and spoken to him about signing for us. Although he laughed it off, he didn't say no," Foster told the Bournemouth Daily Echo.

"I dropped him off at his flat a couple of weeks ago and he asked me to go to the shop to get him some cigarettes. When I got back, I was invited in and we had a good chat about various things.

"I gave him the cigarettes and pulled out the signing-on form at the same time. He signed it there and then. I was chuffed to bits and ran to the car as fast as I could. I was skipping like a 14-year-old."

Losing it: Paul Gascoigne breaks into tears at the 1990 World Cup after England is defeated yet again Losing it: Paul Gascoigne breaks into tears at the 1990 World Cup after England is defeated yet again  

If Gascoigne is fit enough he could make his Abbey debut when they take on Rentech Repairs in the opening round of fixtures on September 7, but Foster is happy to accommodate the 57-time England international in any way possible.

"If he feels he is fit enough to play, he can play wherever he likes - and that includes in goal," added Foster.

"I have said I will put a fixture sheet through his door and have offered to pick him up whenever he is willing to come. I don't know what his availability will be.

"My ambition is to get him there for every game. He might play every game or he might play one. It would be an honour to have him involved."

PA

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