It is tough not to be saddened by the unraveling of English soccer hero Paul Gascoigne, who is currently drying out at an American rehabilitation facility after a very long, very public battle with a virulent strain of alcoholism. Like so many celebrities who we adore for their bad behavior, Gazza became trapped in a destructive feedback loop—the more he pushed his body to the limit, the more we marveled that this obviously troubled man could have once been among the planet’s foremost athletes. And the demon inside Gazza seems to have taken perverse pleasure in creating that logic-defying persona—though, inevitably, that pleasure melted into self-hate, and the cycle of addiction became ever-more firmly entrenched.
To truly appreciate the bind that Gazza now finds himself in, one must understand the heights that he reached. Doing so does not require knowledge of his sporting feats, but rather a familiarity of the perks those feats created—most notably, entree to the world of music, an aspiration of many a successful athlete filled with hubris. This extremely well-researched piece details every in and out of Gazza’s brief but energetic musical career, in which his will to top the charts was exceeded only by his irredeemable narcissism. He seemed genuinely surprised when his songs were greeted with derision more than love—it was the first time in ages that he realized that he could, in fact, do wrong. For someone with the massive ego required to succeed at the topmost levels of sport, such an epiphany is about the most unwelcome thing imaginable.
Another of Gazza’s party anthems here. You can blame the man for lack of talent, but you certainly can’t blame him for lack of spirit.