Any English football fan over 25 will tell you that Paul Gascoigne, better known as Gazza, is one of the most naturally-gifted players the country has ever produced. Born in Gateshead in 1967, he was a skillful entertainer who became a sensation in the wake of his exploits and performances at the 1990 World Cup, for which he was named in the team of the tournament. Gascoigne never quite fulfilled his potential, though he would probably disagree and point to successful stints with hometown club Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio and Glasgow Rangers as evidence to the contrary, as well as 57 caps for his country. However it was a career that gradually tailed off because of serious injuries, fitness issues and alcoholism, and Gascogine has since becomes something of a tragic figure, his additional struggles with mental illness and addiction providing tabloid journalists with plenty of column inches during recent years.
This straightforward documentary by Jane Preston traces his early life, goes over his well-known career ups and downs and skirts around his later problems, mixing a fairly frank interview with highlights reels and contributions from fellow professionals. It’s a shame that only three of these appear to add their thoughts about Gascoigne’s football career, and of the trio only former England captain Gary Lineker actually played with Gascogine at the highest level. Some subjects are clearly taboo; there’s nothing here about the break-up of Gascoigne’s marriage or the physical abuse allegedly suffered by his former wife Sheryl Gascoigne, for example, while other notorious incidents are similarly ignored. Still, football fans will enjoy the old footage and the teary reminiscing, even if the more fascinating material arrives when Gascoigne strays away from the game and discusses two tragic deaths from the 1980s and 1990s that have clearly shaped his life. He still wears his heart on his sleeve, and is an interesting subject, who clearly found the process of making the film therapeutic. Rather aptly it clocks in at 90 minutes.
Directed by: Jane Preston.
Written by: Jane Preston.
Starring: Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney, Jose Mourinho.
Cinematography: Patrick Smith.
Editing: Olivia Baldwin.
Music: Chad Hobson, Ian Masterson.
Running Time: 90 minutes.