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Paul Gascoigne reveals how he feared hearing about Gaza Strip on the news in case it was a story about him

Gascoigne's enviable football career was marred by addiction

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 09 June 2015 07:22 BST
Paul Gascoigne pictured playing for Tottenham in 1989
Paul Gascoigne pictured playing for Tottenham in 1989 (Getty Images/Getty Images)

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne, who struggled with mental illness and addiction, has revealed how he feared stories about the Gaza Strip on the evening news were about him.

Affectionately known as Gazza, the footballer enjoyed an impressive career, and was transferred from Tottenham Hotspur to Italian club Lazio in 1992 for a record-breaking £8.5million.

But in private he struggled to cope with mental illness, and alcohol and drug addiction, with his family taking the decision to section him when he became convinced his phone was being hacked.

However, his suspicions were founded, and last month he was among celebrities to win damages for phone hacking by the Mirror Group Newspaper.

A Palestinian man looks out over destruction in part of Gaza City's al-Tufah neighbourhood in 2014 (Photo: Getty Images)

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Gascoigne told the Press Association how he became so paranoid about his portrayal in the news, that reports of the Gaza Strip filled him with dread.

Palestinians and Israelis have been engaged in bloody conflict over the narrow piece of land for decades. In the most recent conflict last year, over 2,200 people were killed - most of them Palestinians - and many more injured, during 50 days of violence.

The footballer said: "I had a great career. There's been parts since I stopped playing that I've really enjoyed, and then I get knocked down again for no reason.

"Sometimes it's got to the stage now where I hate Saturday nights, because jack shit knows what's coming in the papers on Sunday.

"I tell you what was the worst one, the Gaza Strip. You know the term the Gaza Strip, remember that? That was murder for me. I'd be sitting there having a shave and that, and the news would come on 'And the Gazza...' and I'd be like 'What's that?!' and I realised it was the Gaza Strip. I couldn't wait for that to end."

Paul Gascoigne attends the Premiere of 'Gascoigne' (Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

Fans of the footballer will be able to delve into the 48-year-old’s colourful past in his new documentary Gascoigne, which premiered in London on Monday.

The film documents his youth in Gateshead, his rocky career marred by injury and much-hyped transfer deals, and overcoming the lows of his addiction.

Gascoigne said: “I've given stuff in this movie that I've not told anybody, I'm welling up now (talking about it).

Featuring Gary Lineker, the film also celebrates his footballing skill, as well as his talents as an entertainer - for both fans and team mates.

Gascoigne said: "I just wanted to do this for the reason that not everything in my life was rosy. Even from a young age what I've had to cope with, what I've had to put up with and still come through it. Whether it be injuries, whethere it be rehabs, whether it be taking drugs years ago.

"And I'm not wanting to be proud of... some of the things I've let myself down, but people think, 'Why's he doing this?' Because I had illnesses, I had problems.

"But my football side of it, people forget. I had 20 years of playing football and entertaining fans."

Additional reporting by PA

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