England soccer legend Paul Gascoigne said drink and drug addictions nearly killed him last year and knows he is now on his last chance to save himself, in an interview published yesterday.
“Gazza,” 41, who is in a rehabilitation clinic on the southern English coast trying to get his life back in order, said going back on the booze would be the death of him.
“This is my last chance,” the fallen idol told the Sun newspaper. “My mate Jimmy ‘Five Bellies’ says I’ve got more lives than a cat and he’s right. But this is my last one.”
Gascoigne has battled alcoholism and depression since his playing days. Last year he was sectioned under British mental health laws.
“2008 was a terrible time for me, my worst year ever,” the former Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers star said.
“The drink and drugs nearly killed me, not once but a few times,” he said. “And getting sectioned was the worst thing ever. A little bit of me died when I went in there and I am never going back.”
“The difference this time is I know what I have got to do. I know I can never drink again otherwise it will kill me,” Gascoigne said.
His 12-year-old son Regan, in a documentary called Saving Gazza to be aired on Monday on British television, said he thought his father would “die soon” and wished he would “go away” from the family.
“I don’t think there’s any point in helping him ... I feel bad and sorry for him because he’s in this kind of state but it’s not our fault,” the youngster said.
In the television program, Gascoigne admits: “I’ve got food disorder, bipolar, mood swings, anxiety. I drank when I was happy, I drank when I was sad. And yes, I must admit I thought of dying.”
Gascoigne has been sober for a month and undergoes a punishing fitness regime at the rehabilitation clinic, the Sun said.
Gascoigne, who spent time in rehab in Portugal last year, accused his ex-wife Sheryl of having turned their son against him and laid the blame for his comments on her.
“If she hates me that much, why is she still called Gascoigne? Because the name Gascoigne is a bonus for her, that’s why,” he said.
“I’m not going to watch the program. It’s a disgrace to use a child like that,” Gascoigne said.
“If Sheryl was so interested in saving me then why did she come all the way out to Portugal as part of making a TV show? Would it not have been better to have ‘saved Gazza’ without a camera crew in tow?” he asked.
“Walking into that wine bar and meeting her all those years ago was the most expensive drink I’ve ever had,” he said. “It has cost me about £17 million [US$25 million] over the years.”
“I paid maintenance for two kids who weren’t mine and the family lives in a £1.6 million house. Yet they throw all this at me,” he said.
Considered one of the most talented players English soccer has ever produced, the former midfielder is best known for his exploits in the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy where he helped his country to reach the semi-finals.