Paul Gascoigne ‘blamed himself’ for friend’s tragic death: ‘He’d wake up screaming’

Paul Gascoigne’s family recall friend’s death at young age

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The highs and lows of Paul Gascoigne’s career were laid bare in the recent documentary ‘Gazza’. The two-part BBC series charters Gazza’s meteoric rise from humble beginnings in Gateshead, and offers a stunning insight into his life. The story gives a glimpse into his on-field rise, including spells with Tottenham Hotspur and Lazio, as well as his off-field life.

The documentary makers said of the documentary: “Gazza tells the story of Paul Gascoigne, a footballing genius, whose on-field brilliance is matched by a troubled private life and media mania that spirals out of control.”

In part one of the docuseries, it was revealed that Paul was just 11 when a friend of his, Steven Spraggon, tragically died in a traffic collision.

Paul’s sister, Anna Gascoigne, revealed that Paul blamed himself for the accident.

She said: “At this young age, all this trauma came into his life.

“Paul was 11, Steven was nine, they were just kids messing about.

“They came out the shop and Steven ran after Paul and the car hit him and he died in our Paul’s arms.”

She added: “I know that Paul blamed himself for Steven’s death.

“He’d wake up screaming in the middle of the night.”

Paul’s mum Carol added: “It was terrible. It broke my heart.

“He started to get a stutter. I asked for help.

“His dad used to take him… I know Paul didn’t want to go back anymore so his dad didn’t let him go back.

“I just wanted him to be happy, and then he started to play football and he seemed to be okay after that.”

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Football proved the perfect escape for a young Gazza, and he proved early on that he was the pick of the bunch.

Brian Tinnion, his former team-mate, told the Robins on the Wire podcast that ten of that year’s intake at Newcastle went on to have “good careers”.

He said: “Ian Bogie was a great player at 15, he was the one everyone thought would be the top player – he ended up at Millwall and was a really good midfield player

“Gazza was the stand-out, Gary Kelly was the goalkeeper and he had a good career, Paul Stevenson was the right winger, Kevin Scott the centre-half ended up at Spurs.”

Brian added: “Gazza was an unbelievable talent, he was so natural, you couldn’t coach him.

“He’s never been coached, he was just a natural footballer who was top, top drawer.

“Every level he stepped, he just made that step so easily and you could see that in training — when we all started stepping up and getting close to the first-team, he was just exactly the same from 14 at Dunston Juniors to 18 and playing in the top league, he just never changed and played exactly the same.”

Gazza wrote in his 2004 autobiography that he saw professional football as a way of providing financially for his family, and that he considered football a way of earning far more than the rest of his family could.

He loved football, adding: “I didn’t have twitches or worry about death when I was playing football.”

Gazza burst onto the scene at Newcastle as a 17-year-old before signing a two-year £120-per-week contract upon turning 18.

He was sold to Tottenham Hotspur in 1988 for a then-record British fee of £2.2million, and used almost all of his £100,000 signing-on fee to buy a property for his mother and father.

Having burst onto the scene, he quickly became tabloid fodder, dominating the front and back pages of the newspapers.

The new BBC documentary includes never-before-seen archive and personal home videos, giving a unique insight into life behind the scenes of one of the greatest footballers England has ever produced.

Gazza previously said in a statement about the series: “This is the real story of my time in football — the good and the bad of who I am — and what really happened around me.

“So much of this has never been seen before.”

The second part of the documentary airs on Wednesday, and will follow Paul’s career as it reaches its pinnacle at Euro ‘96, as well as charting his injuries and downfall.

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