Gazza | Interview with Paul Gascoigne on his new documentary

Paul Gascoigne story

Paul Gascoigne’s story: Gazza documentary explores highs, lows, and how fame caused him to unravel

Paul Gascoigne was a football genius and a tormented soul. A new BBC documentary digs deep into both to shed light on a life of magic moments, childhood trauma, hacked phones and dismal lows. Everything is explored but not everything is explained…

“I don’t like being on my own. When you are on your own you think a lot. When I was little things happened to us. So when I am on my own sometimes I think about them.”

The two-part BBC documentary about the life of Paul Gascoigne is both poignant and pathetic, exploring his extraordinary ability to destroy opponents – and himself.

Here is what Gazza had to say about it all

Hi Paul! What were your first reactions to watching both episodes of Gazza?

It was really emotional watching back everything, some things are very hard to watch; but others are good memories with my friends – amazing times at the World Cup in Italy, ‘Gazzamania’, playing in Italy for Lazio, and at the Euros.

Can you tell us about the pressures you felt being a young sportsman in the public eye during the 90s?

I got a lot of media and press attention, so that was a pressure. Don’t get me wrong a lot of it was great, but a lot of it wasn’t. The press would follow us and our family and it was difficult to go out and about sometimes with constantly being followed by sometimes hundreds of cameras. A lot of the stories the press would print weren’t true; and they’d make stuff up about me and that would then cause me problems in my real life. The fans would give us a lot of attention too, but to be honest I didn’t mind that, the fans were fantastic, although there was a lot of fan mail to deal with!

What are your thoughts about the media pressures placed on young sports stars today, can you relate, do you have any advice and what do you think needs to change?

There was a lot of pressure from the press, people who would try and get stories from my friends and family, and the reporters and paparazzi in Italy were insane – there were just so many of them. And then there was of course the phone hacking and harassment from the press which was very difficult to deal with. Hopefully a lot of that isn’t as bad now for current players and they get more help from clubs and security to look after them. But I’m not sure how much the press has really changed, a lot of the same people are still in charge.

What do you hope viewers will take from this documentary?

Hopefully they’ll take away from it, the great times I had, there’s a lot that wasn’t good or perfect, but when it comes to the past you can’t change it and have to take the bad with the good things that you’ve done, and the good things I would repeat in a heartbeat.

What were your thoughts about ‘Gazzamania’ at the time and how do you reflect back on that time in your life?

I loved it to be honest. Every minute of it. Opening shops, switching on the London lights, recording Fog on the Tyne, doing adverts. I enjoyed every minute of it and I was still performing on the pitch. At the time people (or parts of the press anyway) criticised me and said I was doing too much, but my football was as good then as it ever was.

Is there anything about your life that you regret?

There are definitely lots of things I look back on with sadness, things I’ve done that I wish I’d done better or not done; and also things that have happened to me, but you can’t go back, you have to keep going on. I’ve said sorry many times for things and even some of the papers have ended up apologising to me, so I guess that’s true for everyone really.

You have lots of funny stories from your time in football – did you ever feel you went too far with a prank?

I hid a couple of raw fish in Stuart Pearce’s car once. One by the spare tyre in the boot an one in a side panel – so when he found the one with the spare tyre he thought it was sorted but there was another… he had to get rid of the car.

What is your footballing career highlight?

Highlight I think was the World Cup in Italy. I loved every minute of it. The fans were phenomenal. I had the best time playing my football with my mates, great weather, I had such a great time. I was probably the fittest I’d ever been (and I managed to have a few games of tennis and a couple of cocktails on the sly when Bobby Robson wasn’t looking).

What has been the biggest challenge in your footballing career? Is there anything about your time in football that you regret?

Injuries, they killed us. That or maybe playing in China – it was really interesting being there, but it definitely wasn’t my footballing highlight. I really wish I’d managed to play in another World Cup though.

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Mark Meets
Mark Meets
MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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