Gazza heads for Ibrox

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The Independent Online
PAUL GASCOIGNE last night confirmed he would be joining Rangers in a pounds 5m transfer from the Italian club Lazio, ending any lingering hopes among English clubs of persuading him to the Premiership.

Gascoigne flew to Glasgow a few hours after appearing as a substitute for England against Japan at Wembley, for what he described as a "social night" with the Rangers manager, Walter Smith.

"I am not interested in any other club now - it's Rangers for me," said the player, who was greeted on arrival by fans waiting to decorate him with club paraphernalia. "Everything has been arranged. I expect to sign in the first week of July."

The move will be a risk for both player and club. The fee, and wages of over pounds 15,000 a week, are high prices for someone who has only just recovered from a broken leg that kept him out of the game for more than a year. Gascoigne will be entering a fierce footballing city, where he will receive considerable attention when he ventures outside a proposed country retreat. He will also be taking part in a league of little depth, where standards have dropped.

The appeal for him comes in the proximity of his family in Newcastle and the chance to play in the European Cup. Rangers are interested in the potential of a performer, 28 last week, who can lift play above the ordinary. Yesterday at Wembley, clearly not fully fit, Gascoigne tried to do too much of everything in his 32 minutes of play, but his sheer presence visibly lifted England. He is likely to get more chances to further his rehabilitation against Sweden on Thursday and Brazil next Sunday.