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02nd May 2017

The documentary on Netflix about Paul Gascoigne is essential viewing for any football fan

Paul Moore

“Part of his genius and part of his magnificence is the fact that he’s so vulnerable. Without that vulnerability, without that carefree side, without all the things that come with Gazza…I don’t think Paul Gascoigne would have been the player that he was” – Gary Lineker.

It might be a cliche but it’s true. There are certain footballers that you would happily pay your hard-earned cash to see in the flesh. Why? Well, with just one dribble, nutmeg or goal, they’re a reminder that football is the greatest sport in the world.

Simply put, the likes of Best, Messi, Maradona, Garrincha, Ronaldo, Maradona, Cryuff etc all had the ability to make people stand up on their feet and expect the unexpected.

With this in mind, it’s arguable that no other English footballer had this level of ability quite like Paul Gascoigne did, and in the new documentary that’s currently available on Netflix, Gascoigne, filmmaker Jane Preston documents the euphoric highs and soul-crushing lows that the former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and England icon experienced.

Like most other footballers, Gazza’s story begins out on the streets as we see the prodigiously gifted three-year-old do his very best to perfect the ‘Cryuff Turn’ with a tennis ball.

Even in his formative years at Gateshead, it was clear that Gascoigne was destined for the limelight because his remarkable talent shone from an early age. If you’re curious about what a football club was like in the ‘older days’, the story about Gazza making Newcastle manager Arthur Cox a cup of tea, or Jack Charlton’s ‘undiplomatic’ way of telling the midfielder to lose weight, will definitely open your eyes.

Much like his career, the documentary excels during those magical moments that occurred out on the pitch though, but it’s much more than that. There’s a genuine sense of fun, mischief and joy that Gascoigne has with his teammates. This is what really jumps out at you.

We’re not going to ruin the documentary for you but all of the following actually happens; an ostrich showing up for training, Tottenham employees hanging off the back of campervans and  a few cracking anecdotes about how Gazza infuriated Alex Ferguson and how he spent the night before the World Cup semi-final against West Germany.

Being a documentary about Gazza, the viewer is also given a first-hand account at his professional lows like the tears of Turin and the ’91 FA Cup Final injury.

Sadly, as we all know, these moments pale in comparison to Gascoigne’s personal problems with alcohol and mental illness.

Every footballer will understand that they’re incredibly lucky to work in a profession that pays them so handsomely. What’s frequently lost in translation though is that footballers, just like me and you, are people also.

No amount of money can make a person immune to the horrific scars that result from tragedy, death and loss, and in this sense, there’s far more to Gascoigne’s personality than the public ever knew.

While Gazza is upfront about his own self-inflicted problems – he states that he wasn’t emotionally mature enough to cope with the twin pressures of fame and fortune -there’s also a large section focused on how the media contributed to the circus around his life.

The interview with the late Terry Wogan is particularly haunting and poignant.

This being said, the documentary is a super watch for any football fan and it also features contributions from Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney and Jose Mourinho.

To quote that iconic piece of commentary from Barry Davies “Is Gascoigne going to have a crack? He is you know! Oh I say…”.

We’re lucky that he did.

Clip via – Entertainment One UK