Paul Gascoigne was England's most talented footballer of the last 50 years – and a world-class clown off the pitch.
In a new book, Our Gazza: The Untold Tales, a dizzying cast of his former team-mates, managers and club officials tell the stories behind a genius and his relentless appetite for pranks.
A unique collection of anecdotes, compiled by top journalist John Richardson, will make you laugh and cry at the wonderful madness of King Gazza.
Gazza the burglar!
Ally McCoist thought he was confronting a burglar in his kitchen in the dead of night – but the intruder turned out to be Paul Gascoigne.
Former Scotland striker McCoist and Gazza were team-mates at Rangers and lived in neighbouring villages.
But McCoist never realised he would be opening a self-service buffet for England midfielders suffering from a late-night attack of the munchies.
McCoist said: “He gave me one of the biggest frights of my life. At around 3am, when I was asleep in bed, my wife nudged me and said she thought there was someone in the house downstairs.
“Sure enough, I could hear a noise which was quite disturbing. The first thing I grabbed was one of my golf clubs, a three iron. To be honest, I don’t know why because I couldn’t hit a three iron at the best of times!
“As I went down the stairs I could tell the noise was coming from the kitchen. I’m now faced with confronting a burglar.
“I kicked open the kitchen door and straight away I recognised the back of Paul Gascoigne, who is looking into my fridge. He didn’t even turn around.
“I asked him what he was doing. Still not turning around, he informed me he was making a sandwich. I told him it was 3.30am.
“He said he knew that but he had woken up – he still lived in the next village – and was feeling hungry. He had no food in his house so decided to come over to mine.
“I asked him how had he managed to get into my house. He told me he had remembered me talking to my wife on the phone and that I had mentioned the spare house key being in a bag under the oak tree.
“So, when he was hungry, he decided to come over to my house, let himself in with the spare key and make himself a sandwich.
“I finally went back upstairs and my wife asked me what was going on. I replied that everything was fine, it was just Gazza making himself a sandwich!”
Gazza's talk with Eric Clapton
Moving in celebrity circles, Paul Gascoigne mixed with royalty and rock stars.
But his former Middlesbrough and England team-mate Paul Merson revealed Gazza didn't even recognise Eric Clapton when the superstar guitarist paid him a goodwill visit.
Merson said: “Shortly after leaving Boro to join Aston Villa to be nearer home, I got a call telling me Gazza had been taken into care at The Priory in London.
“Some of the doctors there thought it would be a good idea if I went in to talk to him. They figured a friendly face might do him good.
“As we were sitting in the room chatting, guitar legend Eric Clapton walked in. It turned out that ‘Slowhand’ was a volunteer at the hospital.
“Apparently when the story had broken in the papers that Gazza had been admitted, Eric had called up the hospital. He asked if he could talk to him because he figured he could give him some advice.
“After half an hour of bedside chat, Eric got up to buy coffees for everyone. Then Gazza rolled over in his bed, gave me a funny look and said, 'Who the f*** is that?'
“I couldn’t believe it – one of the most famous men in rock history was bringing him a coffee and Gazza didn’t have a bloody clue!”
*Our Gazza: The Untold Tales, by John Richardson, published by Reach Sport
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