20 April 2009

"I've been clean for 14 months, sober for five..."

Paul Gascoigne's shift on Match Of The Day 2's pundit settee last night represented probably the most articulate television appearance he has ever made.

Admittedly this barely marks itself as a great achievement, given that the vast majority of Gazza's previous television gigs have either been drunken, hyper, offensive or just plain incomprehensible. Be it his previous ill-fated attempt at punditry (for ITV during the 2002 World Cup) or his various post-match interviews (Ray Stubbs is probably still reeling from the "eeeeeeeeeh!" he got from Gascoigne after the 1991 FA Cup semi-final), the ex-England player has rarely covered himself in glory. Let us not forget that, in more spontaneous moments before a camera, he also told the people of Norway to "f**k off" and burped to an Italian reporter...

But last night, with the gaunt build which will stay with him forever now as a man who has drank himself to lasting damage, Gascoigne spoke concisely ("clearly" doesn't quite describe it purely because he will always have that more acute Geordie drawl) about the match between the first two clubs of his own career - Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United - analysing Newcastle's defensive problems and enjoying Aaron Lennon's brand of wingplay.

Whatever your opinion of Gascoigne, certainly he will always remain an endearing figure to football fans everywhere. He is, as all generations of players and commentators will acknowledge, the single most gifted Englishman ever to have kicked a ball and when one thinks of the conjuring he has performed on a field for his clubs and country, all the other issues pale into insignificance. Those less keen on the beautiful game see a life wrecker - that of his own and countless others - and there are ample arguments for that too, although he has made a point since his rehab of acknowledging his mistakes and apologising for them. That's all he can do; the rest is up to the conscience of others as to whether they'll let him carry on with his life.

Here's Gazza's single best moment on a football field...

2 comments:

Bright Ambassador said...

"certainly he will always remain an endearing figure to football fans everywhere"
Really? He doesn't endear himself much to me after nearly crippling two opposition players in the 1991 cup final and not getting sent off for it.

Matthew Rudd said...

Given that one of those players he hurt was my all-time football hero, I sympathise with you, BA. I do think he did more good stuff on the pitch than bad though, just as he did more bad stuff off the pitch than good.