Gazza: "I had some of the best-ever times at Spurs, time I can never get back"
Fri 12 May 2017, 15:10|Tottenham Hotspur
The hours are now ticking away to 'The Lane, The Finale' and the final match at our famous old stadium against Manchester United on Sunday. To mark the occasion, we've spoken to a number of legends for their memories of White Hart Lane. Next up - the one and only Paul Gascoigne...
- 33 goals in 112 appearances for Spurs, 1988-91
- FA Cup winner 1991, scored in four of the six rounds
- PFA Team of the Year, 1987–88, 1990–91
- BBC Sports Personality of the Year, 1990
- FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, 1990
- Match of the Day's Goal of the Season, 1990–91
- Treble winner in Scotland, 1996
- Inducted into English Football Hall of Fame, 2002
Hero, icon, legend. Paul Gascoigne is all this and more. For a generation of Spurs fans, he will be the best player they've ever seen and scorer of one of the most famous goals in the Club's history.
Of course, Gazza's story goes deeper than that and difficult recent years have been well-publicised.
But this is the time for celebration.
Spurs fans saw the best of Gazza on the pitch and that's what resonates with him when you ask about White Hart Lane. This was his home for three years and for his last season, 1990-91, he produced some of the best football we've seen in the modern era at our 118 years at the Lane.
Below: Typical Gazza! A photoshoot in 1989
Speaking exclusively to us as we prepare for the Lane's finale on Sunday, Gazza looked back at those golden three years at Spurs, when he turned raw talent and potential into becoming a national treasure and global football star.
"The time I had at Spurs was phenomenal," said Gazza, now 49. "Thing thing is, sometimes I wish I hated it, because then I wouldn’t miss it so much. I enjoyed every minute.
"I was excited to go out and train every day. That’s why I used to go in at eight o’clock in the morning and wait for the rest of the guys to come in.
"My time at Spurs was some of the best ever and the worst thing is when I watch the team now I think about my time there and that’s a time I can never get back."
Below: Typical Gazza again - taking on Everton at the Lane in 1989
Gazza arrived at Spurs from Newcastle in 1988. He marked his first appearance at the Lane by scoring in his sock against Arsenal and scored seven goals in 36 games. He matched that tally in 35 games in 1989-90, earned his place in England's World Cup squad and then...bang.
Gazza shone at the World Cup alongside Spurs team-mate Gary Lineker as England reached the semi-finals. Then came the tackle against Germany, the yellow card, the suspension and the famous tears as England went out.
On his return to Spurs, even Paul admits: "I couldn't do a thing wrong."
He scored 13 goals in his 22 games in the league and League Cup before injury struck at the turn of the year. Suffering a hernia, Gazza would only play another five league games from January 12 to the end of the season, instead focusing on the FA Cup. He was ever-present and the team's talisman with match-winning displays against Oxford, Portsmouth, Notts County and then his crowning moment, the FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley, a masterful display including 'that' free-kick in our 3-1 win.
Below: Schoolboy's own stuff at Wembley
Of course, it was never going to be plain sailing. Gazza badly injured his knee in the final and was in hospital as his great friend Gary Mabbutt lifted the trophy after our 2-1 win against Forest. 'Mabbsy' and the players took the trophy to his hospital bed.
Gazza went on to play for Lazio, Glasgow Rangers, Middlesbrough, Everton and Burnley. He eventually won 57 caps for England, starring in Italia 90 and then Euro 96. He retired after short spells in China and then Boston in 2004.
"Sometimes when I look back and people say to me ‘do you regret anything in your career?’, perhaps I left Spurs too early," he added. "I loved it there. The players, the staff, everyone was class and the team spirit was phenomenal, absolute class. We had a great team.
"People talk about me being a bit of a joker, messing about, but we had about 15 in that squad! Me, Paul Stewart, Steve Sedgley, Jonny Moncur. It was crazy! I’m just laughing to myself remembering Erik Thorstvedt’s first training session – he couldn’t believe it!
"The team spirit was phenomenal. The craic in the dressing room was unbelievable. Terry Venables was the right man for us, he had the character to take us on and all the lads fed off him. He was amazing to everyone, not just myself, his man-to-man management was fantastic.
"Spurs is a massive club and it’s going places. Mabbsy has told me all about the training ground. As I said, I used to go into training every day at eight o'clock and leave at three in the afternoon anyway, if I was at that training ground, I would never leave the place!
Below: Gazza and Gary Lineker at Wembley after the semi-final win against Arsenal in 1991
"I'm sure the players appreciate it and give everything every day. I used to love training and love playing. I miss training almost more than playing, being around the dressing room every day. I loved that."
Gazza won't be at Sunday's finale, but sent this message. "The last time I went to a game at White Hart Lane the fans were still singing my name. I thought that was incredible especially as it’s over 25 years since I left the club. To still sing my name, that’s special.
"I’d just like to thank every one of them for some of the best times I ever had in my football career."