London: Paul Gascoigne’s life may be in danger, the troubled England football hero’s agent said late on Saturday.
Terry Baker told BBC radio that the former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio and Rangers star, who has battled alcoholism and depression for many years, “immediately needs to get some help”.
He spoke as shocking pictures of the 45-year-old, looking bloated and dishevelled, appeared in Britain’s Sunday Mirror newspaper.
“I heard from Paul this evening and my best assessment would be — and I’ve told him this — he immediately needs to get some help,” said Baker.
The agent said Gascoigne had seemed “fairly incoherent” when they spoke on Saturday evening.
“Maybe no one can save him,” he said. “His life’s always in danger because he is an alcoholic, as he says.”
Baker said his client drunk before a charity event last Thursday and had insisted on appearing on stage, against his advice. Gascoigne had to be led from the stage “shaking uncontrollably”, Baker said.
Appealing directly to the former star, Baker said: “Paul, listen to me because you know I’ve got your best interests at heart — you must do what you know you must do.”
Known to fans as ‘Gazza’, Gascoigne made 57 appearances for England and is considered one of the most talented English players ever. He is arguably best known for his exploits at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where he helped England reach the semi-finals.
But he has struggled with addiction and depression since retiring in 2004 and has spent time in rehabilitation clinics, as well as undergoing treatment for bulimia and obsessive compulsive disorder. He was detained twice under the Mental Health Act in 2008.
The former star was given a suspended prison sentence in 2010 after admitting drink-driving, while a separate charge of drink-driving was dropped in 2011. He has also been involved in a much-publicised row with his ex-wife.
Baker said Gascoigne had been in a fragile mental state in recent days, after a friend “died while they were holding his hand”.
“It’s haunting him,” Baker told the BBC.
He described Gascoigne as “the nicest, most generous, lovely person”.
“All he does is give to other people,” he said. “He’s really funny. Despite what people think, he’s quick-witted. But at the moment he’s not very well.”