Paul Gascoigne celebrates his 50th birthday on Saturday, May 27.
The birthday boy, affectionately known as Gazza, has been described as the most naturally-gifted English footballer of his generation. He was born and raised in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, starting his career at Newcastle United as a schoolboy before turning professional with the club in 1985.
In 1988 he joined Tottenham Hotspur for a record British fee of £2.2million, winning the FA Cup.
Gascoigne made his England debut in 1988 and was capped 57 times, scoring 10 goals and helping his side to the semi-final of Italia ’90. It was during England’s semi-final clash with West Germany that Gazza won the hearts of fans (and changed a nation) after a booking caused him to burst into tears on the pitch. The yellow card meant he would have been banned from playing in the final if England had made it, but they went out on penalties.
Italia ’90 was also the year I started following football. I had been playing my self, for about two years, but not found any interest in watching “grown men” play. That all changed when my dad bought me my first Panini FIFA World Cup stickers album. By frantically collecting all the stickers and then following these people on the TV, my big football interest was born.
The skills, passion and all the shenanigans Paul Gascoigne displayed in 1990 and over the coming years, is also the main reason why I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan today. So here is to the man who opened the door, who won peoples heart and changed the sport and a nation. Happy birthday Gazza!
A look at some of the midfielder’s career in numbers:
The age of which Gascoigne wrote in his autobiography “when I had a genuine smile on my face all the time, when I was always happy”.
His age when he was signed as an apprentice by Newcastle on £25 a week.
Paul Gascoigne, Tottenham’s player of the year: 1990 (John Stillwell/PA)
The record British fee in pounds, whenhe joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1988
His first senior trophy, winning the FA Cup with Spurs in 1991.
Senior club appearances made for Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough, Everton, Burnley, Gansu Tianma and Boston United.
Goals in club football.
Full England caps. He scored 10 senior goals for his country.
Minutes into his senior international career when he scored his first goal in his third appearance as a substitute in a 5-0 rout of Albania.
The sum total in pounds paid in transfer fees for Gascoigne by Tottenham, Lazio, Rangers and Middlesbrough.
Probably the most famous image of the 1990 World Cup is that of England’s star midfielder Paul Gascoigne in tears. Gazza was booked in the semi-final, meaning he would miss the final if England got there. Gascoigne realised immediately what had happened and began to cry as the game went on around him. [http://bbc.in/2qftf88]