Spotlight is once again on Gascoigne

GLENN MOORE

Football Correspondent

Terry Venables and his favourite footballing son, Paul Gascoigne, were back in the spotlight at Bisham Abbey yesterday, producing a mixture of suspense and hope as England prepared for tomorrow's international against Colombia at Wembley.

Venables' contribution to the suspense came with his refusal to reveal whether Gascoigne would start the match. If he does, it will be for the first time since Venables' opening match as England coach, against Denmark, 11 matches and 18 months ago. It might also be worth a few thousand extra on what is going to be an attendance of barely 20,000.

Gascoigne, as ever, said he was fit enough to play, noting he had had nine matches for Rangers (not that he has finished many of these). Venables - whose summer weight loss, allegedly on a champagne diet, mirrors Gascoigne's - limited himself to admiring comments on Gascoigne's strength and improving fitness.

"He has been out a long time and needed the games. His physical side is very good. It is a case of his getting back the rhythm and control of the game. He has improved more than I thought. I thought it would take four or five months to get where he is now."

Gascoigne also had his own mystery, one which, in some quarters, will be granted far greater attention. The lemon top, he promised, is to go. In its place at Wembley tomorrow will be another new crop.

No doubt his crimper is already hot-footing to Bisham while, in Glasgow, a thousand barbers eagerly await the next gold mine. Given local rivalry a green rinse can be ruled out. However, the bleach boys' imitators need not head for the last chance salon yet. Gascoigne's pledge was made after the media suggested his desire for privacy ran counter to what appears to be constant attention-seeking.

"Do you want me to look like Mr Bean all my life," he said. "I did it [the bleaching] because I thought I looked good. I wore the peach suit for the same reason. But, just for you, I'll do something else with my hair tomorrow."

While such an affair may be superficial, it underlines the contradictions in Gascoigne's character, and the stresses under which he must live his life.

"I never wanted to be famous, I just wanted to be a good footballer," he said. "I take my football seriously, I always have. I want to be left alone to play it.

"I am always getting watched. You get fed up with it. I am followed in Glasgow, people know where I have been, what I have eaten. I suppose when I stop playing football the attention will end."

Judging from George Best's enduring celebrity, that is unlikely. For now Gascoigne, and Venables, are more concerned with the present.

"I want to show people how well I can play," Gascoigne said. "My job is to make the team tick, to get everyone involved, and hopefully get up and score a few as well."

Venables said: "He is an outstanding player. They do not come around very often. He could easily have thought I have done it [performed well in a World Cup], I have now become a bit of a fat cat, and it hurts to do the work to get that off. Instead he has been dedicated. He is very important for us."

One suspects he will not start tomorrow, but will play the second half. England have injury doubts about Stuart Pearce (hamstring) and Peter Beardsley (knee), but Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp and Teddy Sheringham were able to train. Redknapp may make his debut, alongside John Barnes, Dennis Wise and Robert Lee in midfield.

Venables seemed unconcerned about reports that the missing midfielder, Matt Le Tissier, is being courted by Bobby Gould, the new manager of Wales. Although Le Tissier has played for England, he has not done so in competitive matches and is therefore, as a Channel Islander, eligible to play for Wales (or Scotland or Northern Ireland).

Venables said he thought the loophole was strange but the decision was up to the player. He was not going to ask Le Tissier not to defect, or give him assurances.

This may seem odd but Venables has made it quite clear that he is only interested in players who want to play for England. The best thing Le Tissier can do is publicly state his desire to play for England, and England alone. For all Gascoigne's faults, such a commitment has never been in doubt.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas