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England players offer to help Gascoigne fight alcoholism

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Associated Press
2/5/2013 2:38:16 PM
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LONDON -- Distressed by the sight of Paul Gascoigne's renewed battle against alcoholism, England players offered Tuesday to help the troubled star's recovery as he receives treatment in the United States.

Gascoigne's friends organized for him to fly to a treatment centre in Phoenix, Arizona after seeing images published of him in ill health at a charity function last week, sobbing and slurring his words while addressing the crowd.

The rare public appearance by the 45-year-old former midfielder -- known as "Gazza" -- confirmed fears that he is struggling to overcome the alcohol and mental-health problems that have plagued him since quitting the game in 2005.

Now the England team believes that Gascoigne, whose skilful displays at the 1990 World Cup turned him into an international celebrity, could benefit from assistance from the current generation of players.

"We've made it clear we are able to help if needed," captain Steven Gerrard said ahead of England's match against Brazil on Wednesday.

English Football Association officials are conveying Gerrard's offer to Gascoigne's management team.

"I'm very happy the players have made the gesture because I'm sure to Paul having the love of the current England team could be a factor in aiding his recovery," England coach Roy Hodgson said.

"Anything I can do, we are there to do, but we need to be told what is required of us ... it's a question of Paul now getting the treatment he needs and kind words won't be enough.

And it is "some quite severe action" that Hodgson believes the former Tottenham and Lazio player requires.

"Like everyone else who marveled at his talent, it is sad to hear he is not in a good way and having to take these drastic measures to try and get his life back into some sort of order," Hodgson. "All I can hope is that he recovers well and the friends he has out there rally together and give him the help he needs.

"Sometimes being a friend might have to mean telling people things they don't want to hear and telling them not to do things they want to do. Hopefully he will come out the other side a fitter and stronger person."

Gascoigne's trip to the treatment centre was organized by former cricketer Ronnie Irani.

"I called British Airways and explained the situation, that we had to get him out to Phoenix to get him some help," said Irani, who is now a presenter on TalkSport radio. "He needs it, and if not, who knows what's going to happen?"

Gascoigne's management company announced on Monday that he has "complex issues that are currently been dealt with by professionals."

Agent Terry Baker had warned that Gascoigne's "life is always in danger because he is an alcoholic."

Gascoigne scored 10 goals in 57 matches for England, helping the team reach the semifinals at the 1990 World Cup and European Championship in 1996.

Paul Gascoigne (Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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