Paul Gascoigne is arguably the most naturally gifted player English soccer has ever produced and undeniably one of its greatest personalities on and off the pitch. In the wake of his outstanding performances in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Gazzamania swept the country and he reached number two in the UK Top 40 with his song 'Fog on the Tyne'. Few English soccer players have become as recognizable and as loved as Paul Gascoigne and he was memorably branded 'daft as a brush' by then England manager Sir Bobby Robson.
On the pitch Gazza was a revelation. Despite his size he commanded the deftest of touches, the ability to run at defenders, an inch-perfect pass and a flair for the unpredictable. He also possessed a cheeky sense of humour that could occasionally get him into trouble with officials - such as the time he booked a referee who had dropped his yellow card on the pitch! Throughout his career with Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton, Gazza was the supreme entertainer and exuded a simple love of the game.
Gazza's league debut was for hometown club Newcastle in April 1985 and his performances over the following seasons earned him the Young Player of the Year award in 1988. But it was after joining Spurs that he developed into the blisteringly exciting player that caught the world's attention, and where he won an FA Cup medal in 1991. His move to Lazio made him a darling of the Italian fans and another move to Rangers earned him two Scottish League titles, along with Scottish Cup and League Cup medals.
Some of Gazza's greatest moments were in the shirt of England for whom he played 57 times, scoring 10 goals. He shepherded England through to the semi-finals of both the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 - losing penalty shoot-outs to the Germans on both occasions. In the 1990 match Gazza was booked, meaning he would miss the final if England went through. His subsequent tears became an iconic image of the ultimate, passionate sportsman.