The good, the bad and the ridiculous – Sportsmail's favourite Gazza stories
11:14 GMT, 22 November 2012
12:57 GMT, 22 November 2012
Paul Gascoigne will always have a very special place in the hearts of Tottenham and Lazio fans and with the two squaring up in the Europa League, the former England star has been invited to watch the action in Rome's Olympic Stadium.
It's 20 years since Gazza swapped White Hart Lane for the Italian capital and here, Sportsmail writers and photographers share their favourite memories of one of the best midfielders and brightest characters to have graced the game.
When in Rome: Paul Gascoigne is set to watch two of his former clubs in action in the Europa League
I went to Botswana with him and I
can’t tell all the stories, but he was brilliant company, dazzled on the
pitch, scored a couple of goals past me and made me wish him all the best.
He once threatened to send me ‘back in a box’ when I approached him for an interview in Portugal a few years back.
But on a trip to Africa in 2006, to
promote the FA’s work abroad (including visiting an orphanage and a
hospital specialising in treatment for children with AIDS ) he was in good form.
In the wild: Our man Lee Clayton with Paul Gascoigne and a couple of friends they met in Botswana
We parted at Heathrow with a kiss (him, not me) and stayed in touch after.
The kids loved seeing him and so did the cheetahs during a visit to a wildlife centre.
In company, he was fine. He even overcame his hatred for flying. His demons were never far away, but he seemed happy.
He said he had lost his love for English football because it was ‘dull’. He wasn’t dull.
The fondest memories are of those gliding runs and explosions of pace and the trail of bodies he would leave in his wake.
The most shocking memory, the tackle that wiped out his knee in the FA Cup final.
I will never tire of hearing the thousands of (perhaps slightly embellished) stories from his career. Climbing into a tumble dryer at Newcastle and emerging so dizzy he couldn’t stand.
Appearing naked on the front seat beside Dino Zoff when the team bus came out of a tunnel and into daylight.
Emotional: Gascoigne in tears was one of THE images of Italia 90
Covering himself in ketchup and lying beneath Bobby Robson’s balcony at the team hotel during Italia 90.
Or when Matt Holland asked him why he had 'Holland 8' written on the back of his hand and was told it was because he had been told to mark him at corners.
But my favourite memory is when my mate Steve copied his hairdo, around 1990, the one with it
all brushed forward with a little fringe, and unwittingly revealed for
the first time how abnormally large his head actually was. Good old Gazza.
I sadly never covered Everton when Gazza was playing there but I do know several stories about him.
One which springs to mind is when he entertained
a packed restaurant one Sunday afternoon by letting a parrot that had
been bought for him by his erstwhile sidekick Jimmy Fivebellies out of its cage. The squawking was apparently deafening.
As for his football, the goal he scored against Scotland at Euro 96 epitomised his genius. What a crying shame his demons prevented him reaching astral heights.
Thirsty work: Gazza's celebration after scoring against Scotland is also unforgettable
It was rude and it was wrong, but it
has to be the moment before England’s World Cup qualifier with Norway in
October 1992 when Gazza was asked by NRK network reporter Thor Eggen if he would like to send a message to Norway.
‘Yes,’ replied Gazza. ‘F*** off Norway!’
I know it’s predictable, but it’s that goal against Scotland at Euro ‘96. I was still at primary school and I remember watching it in awe…and then laughing.
I can appreciate the vision, talent and audacity now, but back then it was the sheer joy of a wonderful sporting moment – and fact Gazza seemed just as happy and excited as me.
My favourite picture is the one of him and Vinnie Jones taken when Newcastle played Wimbledon at Plough Lane in 1988.
Taken by the great Monte Fresco, it gave me the inspiration to get into sports photography.
Ouch: Vinnie Jones gets to grips with Gazza in one of the most famous photgraphs in football
My personal favourite was when I was working for The People and was sent to do a feature with Gazza and Jimmy Greaves.
They were doing a stand-up Q&A and when I got there Jimmy didn’t really like my idea of a head-to-head picture.
Gazza being Gazza shoved his face up to Greavsie's nose… then said: 'Hope you've got it.'
Really nice guy for such a big star.
What a pair: Gazza and Greavsie were entertainers on and off the pitch
And finally….Adam Shergold says:
'My favourite Gazza memory will be totally different from the others here – it was the extraordinary six weeks he spent at my club, Boston United, in the summer of 2004.
United were by this time established in the Football League and evidently had ambitions of a kind and a whole load of persuasive power to entice Gascoigne to south Lincolnshire.
After all, Boston hardly has the nightlife he might be used to and is miles from anywhere.
It had been two years since he played in England – at Burnley – and a year since he joined Gansu Tianma in China, purely for the sake of an accompanying ITV documentary I might venture.
No tea party: Gazza had a brief spell at Boston in 2004
He rocked up about a month before the start of the League Two season and, to be fair to the 37-year-old, looked in good shape.
I later heard from friends in and around the club that he was on a strict regime of going to the gym three times a day and subsisted exclusively on Bran Flakes.
With hindsight, he looked too fit – all skin and bone with a pale complexion.
You could kind of tell this wasn't going to be a permanent change of club by the fact Gazza holed himself up in a suite in the New England hotel, rather than look for a property in the area.
Unsurprisingly in such a sleepy town, Gazza was pretty bored. My dad, who works at the nearby Toyota dealership, had the surreal sight of Gazza walking in and asking for a test drive on a new model to pass the time.
On the pitch, it seemed Gazza was knuckling down to the hard graft but his performances, frankly, tallied with those of a faded diamond.
I remember three things – a pre-season match with a youth team from his old club Newcastle in which he sprayed magic 60-yard passes without a second thought, having put another 1,000 on the gate and attracted all the regional news crews to York Street.
Steve Evans, our manager at the time, brought him off the bench in the derby with Lincoln at Sincil Bank – and he immediately put in two pin-point crosses to earn us a 2-2 draw.
And in a game against Chester, he actually avoided a second yellow card by kissing the referee.
But after just four league appearances, Gazza had checked out of the New England, handed back the keys to his hire car and left the club.
Allegedly it was because United wouldn't allow him to appear on 'I'm a Celebrity.'
But it was probably 'I'm a star in a small backwater… get me out of here!'
All in all, a very strange, if exciting, episode.