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Paul Gascoigne

Posted on 14 August 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

True he was daft, and thankfully remains so, but he can also play as he regularly proved during his four years at the Lane. In his programme profile for the Lazio game, John Fennelly remembers it all well with his own personal recollections of life with Gazza.

WHERE DO YOU start when talking about the footballing genius of Paul Gascoigne ?

You have to concentrate on the positive and just be glad that part of his journey through football gave us some magical moments here at White Hart Lane.

Maybe Lazio fans will also have their memories of the England international midfielder who left us for Rome in May, 1992, where he enjoyed three good seasons in Serie A before moving on to Rangers.

But however Spurs and Lazio fans remember Gascoigne, they will almost certainly do so with a smile.

He arrived here in July, 1988, and that in itself represented a real coup because Manchester United were solidly on the trail of the 21-year-old who had quickly emerged as one of the best attacking midfielders in the game. For a brief spell in later years he was to become the best in the world.

Newcastle United received £2 million in return for his services and Gazza was probably more delighted when the club presented him with a new fishing rod to mark the occasion. Fishing remains his favourite hobby and Gascoigne, leaving the finances to others, immediately set off for the riverbank.

Former England manager Bobby Robson famously labelled him "daft as a brush" and he was spot on. But although the spotlight was beginning to fall on him during his Spurs days, it was never as intense as it would later become and Gascoigne was a relaxed, Artful Dodger of a lad who was very much part of our family.

No one was safe from his jokes and leg-pulls. Many are legendary - and some even not to be mentioned ! But everyone working here at the time was touched by Paul's presence and all will have an original story to tell.

Yet he was so keen to please that if he felt that he had upset you or overstepped the mark, he would be quickly back to put things right. This happened to me once when he gave me the new leather jacket that he was wearing, containing a gold neck chain and his wallet, just to cheer me up after one silly jape too many. I simply said 'thanks' and walked off with it but allowed him to collect it from my office later when he called to not exactly apologise but to ensure that there were no hard feelings.

We worked on a "Gazza" annual together and had so many laughs that we almost missed the deadline. I ended up finishing it in my own time in my back garden one Sunday afternoon because he was so difficult to pin down. That was the book that contained those pictures of Gazza as a ballerina, cowboy etc that, although funny at the time, subsequently lost their gloss when things went sour.

I remember driving him home after he'd just emerged from the shower following training. He kept combing his hair and then sticking his head out of the window to assess his coiffure in the wing mirror - as we motored along at top speed ! The end result, of course, was that his hair was continually worse off that when he had started and I pointed this out.

But you could see from his sly smile that he was, once again, just out to entertain and all was deliberate. In fact the joke was on me !

I turned the tables slightly soon afterwards when I bit into a sandwich that I had left on my desk only to find that Gazza had been there before me and placed a spoon between the two slices ! Fortunately, although I'd just had some expensive dental work completed, there was no damage but I wasn't going to let him know that.

At Chase Lodge the following morning, he greeted me with his usual "morning Mr Fennelly" - he always called me that for some reason - as I walked purposely across the pitches feigning annoyance. "I want a word with you," I shouted as he suddenly twigged about his activities of the day before, threw a half-eaten apple in my direction and ran off with me in pursuit.

I was pretending to bang his head against the side of the club van when the window of Terry Venables's office flew open as he demanded to know what was going on.

Venables: "Leave him alone, I need him for tomorrow's game."
Allan Harris, his assistant: "What bothers me is that old Scoop managed to catch him!"

On another occasion at the Lodge, we were getting ready for an early morning pre-season photo call when the main object of the day was the usual team picture. But David Jacobs, the photographer, couldn't find the principal camera needed and already set up for the job.

As the three tiered line-ups of our senior players began to get impatient, we searched everywhere under a cascade of abuse - before we noticed Gascoigne taking our pictures from the middle of the centre row !

Later, I requested an interview which he granted but asked to see my tape recorder first. Foolishly I let him have a look - and he ran off with it. When I got it back it contained interviews with his fellow players about what they thought of me !

Good days. I felt sorry for Paul when the enforced cancellation of our opening home game of his first season was postponed and he was forced to make his League debut back at Newcastle where he faced some amazing stick. As fellow Geordie Chris Waddle, who had made the same move south in 1985, observed: "At least they should leave me alone for a change!"

An England Under-21 player when he joined us, he went on to win 57 senior caps and first came to the attention of the Italians when he played - and famously cried - at the Italia 90 World Cup.

Then came the attempted tackle on Nottingham Forest's Gary Charles in the 1991 FA Cup Final victory that put Gazza in hospital with such a serious knee injury that his whole career was now in doubt. But he showed tremendous character to work his way back to full fitness and move to Lazio for £5.5 million the following year.

They loved him in Rome then later at Rangers, Middlesbrough, Everton and, last season, with Burnley.

And we too loved him during his all too brief stay at the Lane.