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England legend Paul Gascoigne has opened up on his endless battle to stay sober, revealing that he is staying in his agent’s spare room and is back attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. 

Gascoigne, 56, has publicly battled mental health problems and alcohol addiction since concluding his storied career in football. 

Viewed as one of the greatest English players of all time, Gascoigne made 57 appearances for his country and starred for a host of teams including Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers.

But now, as revealed during an interview with High Performance, ‘Gazza‘ lives with his manager Katie Davies on a residential street in Poole on the south coast of England.

‘I used to be a happy drunk. I ain’t anymore. I’m a sad drunk. I don’t go out and drink, I drink indoors,’ the former midfielder said.

England legend Paul Gascoigne, 56, has opened up on his never-ending battle to stay sober

England legend Paul Gascoigne, 56, has opened up on his never-ending battle to stay sober

Viewed as one of the best English players of all time, Gascoigne made 57 caps for his country

Viewed as one of the best English players of all time, Gascoigne made 57 caps for his country

Gascoigne told High Performance: 'I used to be a happy drunk. I ain't anymore. I'm a sad drunk'

Gascoigne told High Performance: ‘I used to be a happy drunk. I ain’t anymore. I’m a sad drunk’

‘People know Paul Gascoigne but Gazza, no one knows. Even me sometimes. I’ve spent a lot of years being down, when I did my ligaments and then my kneecap, I missed four years of football. I would’ve got 100 caps (for England). 

‘I try not to get down because the world’s already down enough. And when I’m really down, that’s when I pick up a drink to cheer myself up.

‘I don’t think I let any managers down, or the players or the fans you know. If there was anyone I let down, it was myself. But more the drinking side of it, when I finished playing.’

Gascoigne, who was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002 before calling time on his career in 2004, has struggled with his battle for sobriety since retirement.

He went to rehab for a seventh time for alcohol addiction in 2014, attending a £6,000-a-month clinic in Southampton, and has even paid £20,000 to have anti-boozing pellets put into his stomach in a bid to stop drinking. He admitted during a 2021 interview that he will ‘always be an alcoholic’. 

Gascoigne’s battle with alcohol has also led to a series of arrests for drunk and disorderly and drink-driving offences. The former superstar admits he barely watches football anymore because of how much he misses it.

‘If I want to make it a bad day, (all I need to do) is) go down the pub. If I want it to be a good day, get my flying rod out and go fishing,’ he added.

‘It’s not the drinking, it’s the afterwards. Looking at my phone after and seeing 30 messages or missed calls, I know I’m in trouble. But I’ve been alright. Last year wasn’t brilliant, was off and on for a couple of months.’

Gascoigne, who used to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings ‘all the time’ but now goes far less frequently, admitted that he is trying to pay visits more often.

‘I went to a meeting the other night so that was alright. Just an AA meeting. I went with a friend and that was okay. They’re alright, harmless,’ he said.

A generational talent, Gascoigne was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002

A generational talent, Gascoigne was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002

Pictured during a television interview with ITV last year, Gascoigne has publicly battled mental health problems and alcohol addiction since his retirement from football back in 2004

Pictured during a television interview with ITV last year, Gascoigne has publicly battled mental health problems and alcohol addiction since his retirement from football back in 2004

The former England international pictured with his manager Katie Davies in October 2019

The former England international pictured with his manager Katie Davies in October 2019

Now, rather than binging on booze, Gascoigne drinks coffee in plentiful supply. The former footballer admitted during the interview that he’ll often drink six coffees by 10am and total approximately 15 packets of Mocha a day. 

‘It’s easy really, I just try to keep away from places,’ he continued. ‘If I have a drink, I have one because I want one, it’s not for any reason in particular. I don’t blame anyone, I used to blame a lot of people when I was drinking. “It’s f***ing because he did that”. “Because such and such did this”. 

‘After going to the first couple of meetings, I did the 12 steps and one of the steps was to meet the person you blamed and apologise to them.’ 

The England legend opened up on how he once apologised to shop owner after stealing a chocolate bar. The vendor told Gascoigne that the shop’s CCTV cameras had caught him, but he chose to do nothing about it because it was ‘him’.

Some members of the public, however, are less kind and forgiving of Gascoigne. Katie, who keeps no alcohol in the house, revealed that some people will occasionally leave bottles of gin on the doorstep, waiting for Gascoigne to unknowingly pick the bottle up and opportunistically take a photograph.

Opening up on his life after football and how he deals with his past, Gascoigne continued: ‘I called Katie up in November a few years ago crying my eyes out. 

‘What I put myself through and other people, jail and rehab – taking cocaine off toilet seats – and then I’m asked to be ambassador for my country, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

‘When I do these venues, I hardly talk about football, more the crazy stuff I used to get up to. I’ve got to get straight in and get them laughing. 

Gascoigne cries after England's World Cup semi-final defeat by West Germany in July, 1990

Gascoigne cries after England’s World Cup semi-final defeat by West Germany in July, 1990

He admitted that he barely watches football anymore, because he misses the 'buzz' of playing

He admitted that he barely watches football anymore, because he misses the ‘buzz’ of playing

‘There’s a few times when I’ve cried on stage. You miss it on a Saturday, you know, entertaining people. I got such a f***ing buzz from it and you miss that.

‘I can be emotionally soft. It doesn’t take long for us to cry sometimes. I keep a lot of stuff in, stuff I should share but get scared of sharing with people. I don’t think I’ll ever grow up, which I don’t mind you know? 

‘I’m proud of what I’ve given people. I gave nearly a million quid to 10 different charities and called them to keep it quiet.

‘I’ve never (given up). I think the time I’ll give in is when I’m in a wooden box. Apart from that, I’ll keep on fighting on.’

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This post first appeared on Daily mail

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