Fears For Gazza
4 February 2013, 08:38
Concerns are growing for former England footballer Paul Gascoigne after he appeared unwell and shaking during a charity appearance in Northampton.
Gascoigne, 45, broke down sobbing on stage in front of a room full of fans. His agent Terry Baker said he had been drinking and needs immediate help, suggesting Gascoigne's life is "always in danger'' and fearing that "maybe no-one can save him''.
But Gascoigne, affectionately known as "Gazza'', still believes he can "get back on track'' after his latest "relapse'', according to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).
The PFA will continue giving the former England midfielder as much support as possible, Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor said he had been in contact with Gascoigne over the weekend, and that Gascoigne still believes he can "get back on track after'' his latest "relapse''.
He told Press Association Sport: "He still feels he is capable of getting back on track and (that) it is a relapse he has had.
"I can only say, whatever help he needs, he must come on (board) and we will help to provide it.
"I think he does need specialist care and a very strong 24-hour support system, but again, it needs him to be part of that.''
Taylor has expressed his concern that the case could be comparable with that of George Best, the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger who died aged 59 in 2005 after a long struggle with alcoholism.
He is adamant that the PFA will not be giving up on Gascoigne, though, and after ex-United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel commented on Twitter that the organisation needed to "step up'' their efforts to help the troubled star, Taylor has also stressed how much work they have already put in.
He said: "We have tried to support him throughout all his problems with rehabilitation at various clinics, with medical help.
"We go one step forward and two back at times and this is just the situation.
"If we are not careful, it is going to be akin to George Best. It is unfortunate, but we try to keep going.
"I can't think of a player who has had more support and constant help over the number of years that we have been there for Paul.
"It is quite ironic - it is nice that people like Peter Schmeichel care about him, but they don't appreciate the work we have done for him, a lot of which has to be confidential.
"If anything, I have been criticised at times for keeping faith and trying to keep going with him.''
Mr Taylor said the PFA had taken Gascoigne in just a few weeks ago for detoxification, and that the player had to engage with the people trying to help him.
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker admits he is struggling to see a positive outcome for his former England and Tottenham team-mate Gascoigne, writing on Twitter: "I can only hope he finds peace somehow, but fear those hopes may be forlorn.''
Gascoigne, who has spoken about alcoholism problems in the past, was sectioned five years ago under the Mental Health Act.