Thursday, 25 September 2008

The writing's on the wall. Someone in football: help Gazza NOW.

The pace of Paul Gascoigne's decline is gathering pace. He's dying live on telly, in newspapers and radio news bulletins. He's burbling to taxi drivers and threatening suicide to hotel staff. Do we need anymore evidence of his struggle with life?

That's unless someone in a position of power in football, does something to help him.

It doesn't mean packing him off to the Priory and picking up the tab. It doesn't mean having him in as a guest in your club or on your show. It means giving him a job in your football club; one that'll give him a reason to live. Something with football at its heart.

Every fan loves him, everyone remembers his exploits. The World Cup semi-final sob, the flute playing at Rangers, the burp into the waiting reporters mike, the Cup semi free-kick which buried Arsenal, the overheated, deranged challenges on Parker and Charles which led to cruciate damage, smashing up the hotel room when Hoddle told him he'd rather have Rob Lee at France 98, The Sun's Dentist Chair and the accompanying celebration at Wembley against the Scots. EVERYTHING he did was wholehearted or funny - and usually both.

That's why someone - at Newcastle, Spurs, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough, Everton, Burnley ... or Wolves should give him a job.Gazza loves kids, he loves football; can't someone think laterally? his job could be Youth Team training partner, handshaker, full-time autograph signer. Something that if he's not there one day, you'd shrug and say "don't worry, he'll be back next week". It'd be about giving this troubled man the support he's literally crying for.

Football owes a debt of gratitude to Gazza. He emerged as football did - from the ashes of Bradford and the tragedies of Heysel and Hillsborough - to the glory of Italia 90 and then the formation of the Premier League.

It's no co-incidence. People and personalities like him were the catalyst as football emerged from near extinction in the 80's.

George Best died a slow and inevitable death - why does it have to happen again? Gazza, a hero to millions and one of football's biggest figures of the last two decades.

If football people really mean it when they say, "I want to give something back to the game" - they should start by lending Gazza a hand.