LONDON -- Former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne believes he was on the brink of death when he slipped into a coma while receiving treatment for alcohol addiction in the United States.
The 45-year-old Gascoigne flew home to Britain on Saturday, a month after being admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital in Phoenix following a relapse in his long-running struggle with alcoholism.
"Gazza", who made his name by starring in the 1990 World Cup, told Sunday's editions of The Sun newspaper that he needed emergency treatment at the hospital after his lungs and heart seized up. He insists he will not drink again.
"The medics who have spent their careers treating alcoholics said my detox was the worst they had ever seen," he was quoted as saying.
Gascoigne recalled seeing "three doctors pumping injections in the side of me to keep me alive."
"Three doctors didn't think I would make it," he told the newspaper, which is funding part of his recovery costs. "I was out cold for three days ... I was (expletive) dead two weeks ago. I've come through that -- death."
Once of England's most talented and loved footballers, the former Tottenham and Lazio player has faced alcohol and mental-health problems since leaving his last job in the game -- as manager at Kettering -- in 2005.
Gascoigne said he was sober for 17 months before starting to drink again in the middle of last year while in Dubai, and then went into "self-destruct" mode.
A video of Gascoigne appearing at a charity function in January, sobbing and slurring his words while addressing the crowd, prompted friends to organize the former footballer's trip to the United States for treatment.
"I can't keep saying sorry to people for letting everyone down again. ... I will prove to people how it is going to be different this time," he said. "I should be dead. The doctors said I would not make it. But I'm here, I have another chance and I'm going to take it."
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. At club level, he played for a number of teams including Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton.