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Xtra - Gazza's toughest battle

Gary Mabbutt talks about his friend and former team-mate Paul Gascoigne in a story that we published in Saturday's official matchday programme against Newcastle United.

Paul Gascoigne is a legend to both sets of supporters at the Lane today - which is why we shall all have found the recent stories and images of him in the media so upsetting.

But, according to one of his closest and most trusted friends, Gazza has once again taken the difficult steps on the road to recovery – and he needs all our support.

No-one knows Paul like Gary Mabbutt, who forged a friendship with the mercurial talent during their days together in our famous white shirts that remains as strong now as it did when they were blazing an FA Cup trail all the way to Wembley glory in 1991.

While Gazza was the showman who lit up the Lane – and of course St James’ Park - on numerous occasions with his wonderful array of skills and fantastic ability, Mabbsy was the rock at the back, part of the defensive foundation which allowed Gazza to produce his magic. While almost an unlikely friendship, it has remained to this day and Gary has been at his good friend’s side through thick and thin.

Mabbsy hands Gazza the Player of the Year Award, 1990

For much of last year, Gazza appeared to be making great progress from his addictions and illnesses which have blighted him down the years. Indeed, he was a welcome visitor here at the Lane several times and enjoyed being back among the football fraternity.

Unfortunately though, Paul suffered a setback recently which has led to unwanted headlines once more. But as Gary explains, everyone is determined to get Gazza fit and healthy again, including the man himself.

“It’s been well documented the illnesses and problems Paul has had over the last few years and whilst some of the media make out he is a celebrity drunk, its a more serious condition,” said Club Ambassador Gary. “Paul has complex problems that need to be addressed and that is what everyone has been working towards.

“He’s had a great deal of support along the way to try to help him and he has had good and bad spells. He was doing extremely well for about 10 months and came to my lounge at White Hart Lane on three occasions.

“Everything was going well, but when you’re dealing with the sort of illnesses Paul has, people can have relapses and unfortunately that is what has happened recently.

“I’ve been in touch with him virtually every day these last few weeks. The most important thing for someone like Paul is that they want to get better, so we’ve been trying to get him to focus again on trying to get well.

“He was in a bad way but he came forward and said that he needed help. That was what we wanted to hear and that lit the touch-paper to get him the help he needs. At the moment he is away in a clinic in Arizona receiving specialist care.

“All we do now is wish him all the very best and hope he gets well soon and also hope he knows that we are all right behind him.”

In addition to the contribution to his welfare from our Tottenham Tribute Trust, support for Gazza has also come from a the FA and the PFA.

The Tottenham Tribute Trust is an organisation dedicated to serving the needs of former Spurs stars who find themselves in a situation that compromises their quality of life. Gazza is by no means the only beneficiary down the years and through Club support and contributions, fund-raising events and generous donations, the Trust has helped a variety of former Club legends, and will continue to do so in the future.

“The Club and the Tottenham Tribute Trust have been fantastic,” added Gary. “All the way along they have always offered to help and support Paul with his treatment, as they do with all former players in difficult circumstances.

“It’s important Paul is aware how much love and support there is for him. Obviously supporters of both teams today will join with me in wishing him well, but I think every football fan in the country is behind him.

“First and foremost Paul is a football man himself,” Gary continued. “When we talk, we always chat about football, about our time together at Tottenham and he always talks fondly about how much he loves the Club and the fans and how much the fans love him back.

“The Club means a lot to him and I’m sure everyone at Spurs can’t wait to see the day he’s back at the Lane.”