How good was Paul Gascoigne

bringbackbebe

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Way before my time & never seen him play but in the youtube videos I've seen of Gasgoine, I'd say he's the most talented player ever...followed by Rhain Davies and Kerlon the seal dribbler :p
 

Dans

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Insanely good footballer. When I hear people talk about Rooney, and when we first signed Rooney as a teen, Gazza is what I was expecting. Of course by joining us, and Gazza opting not to join us, Rooney achieved more. But Gazza was a very special player. He’d just pick the ball up and go past players for fun, could see and pick a pass and control a game from midfield. Once he got running there was only really one way to stop him, foul him. He played at a time when not every game was live on TV and CL wasn’t formed so this is why posters on here are criminally underrating him.

By a distance the most talented English player of the past 40-50 years.
100% agree - he was such a special talent. Such a waste.
 

Bebestation

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I didn't get to watch him as he was before my time -

but he always felt like a player that came right inbetween 2 generations;

The drinking generation of English football and the generation that was just starting to get more professional.

It always felt like to me that if he was born 2 years later- the chance of him being more professional as a footballer seemed more likely.

Not a patch on Ravel Morrison.

Redcafe meme, don’t kill me
I actually agree with this. He seemed like a player that had alot more ability than he was able to ultimately produce; primarily due to their professionalism.
 

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Only saw him for England in Euro 96 and he was very good in those games. The Scotland goal stood out. Was 1996 among his prime years?
 

Oldyella

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Incredibly talented footballer. What made him stand out was how different he was from other midfielders at the time. Flair players generally gravitated to the wing in his era while he was beating people for fun in the middle of the park, and at a time when tackles still used to fly in.
 

Josh 76

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If you actually break down his career, it was Nothing special.

He played well in a struggling Newcastle side
Scored a few great goals for spurs
Italia 90 was so overrated.

Was never the same player after his injury.

At Lazio he scored against Roma and so became a fan’s favourite.

His best football was actually at Glasgow Rangers. But that has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Euro 96 he was over weight and well past it.

The reason why he’s highly rated was a different type of player to what was around in them days.

If there was a player I would compare him to for the younger generation it would be Jack Wiltshire . A great talent who never fulfilled his true potential. The injuries had a major factor for both players .
 

dinostar77

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Probably the most naturally talented england player ever. We'll never know what he could have achieved under fergie.

Could have been at zidane, ronaldinho etc level of he forfilled his vast potential.

Peak Rooney is nowhere near peak gazza.
 

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I don’t know about greatest English player of that generation but he was a player I loved watching before his injury. His runs at people making them commit was a thing to behold
 

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Insanely good footballer. When I hear people talk about Rooney, and when we first signed Rooney as a teen, Gazza is what I was expecting. Of course by joining us, and Gazza opting not to join us, Rooney achieved more. But Gazza was a very special player. He’d just pick the ball up and go past players for fun, could see and pick a pass and control a game from midfield. Once he got running there was only really one way to stop him, foul him. He played at a time when not every game was live on TV and CL wasn’t formed so this is why posters on here are criminally underrating him.

By a distance the most talented English player of the past 40-50 years.
Agreed.

Such a unique player. As @Oldyella says, rarely does anyone bring together the creativity and ball-carrying ability of a classic number 10, with the hustle and energy of a box-to-box midfielder. Look at him against Holland in Italia '90, physically going toe-to-toe with supreme athletes like Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Or against West Germany in the semi-final when he kept tabs on Matthaus and the pair end up cancelling each other out much like Charlton and Beckenbauer did in '66. That was part of the reason he far exceeded what the likes of Hoddle and Barnes did in an England shirt. His enthusiasm to graft and get on the ball ensured he thrived in the straight-jacket 4-4-2 system that other creatives struggled to find a niche in.

There are two phases to Gazza's career - the burgeoning talent and peak from 1987 to 1991, and his post-injury phase from 1992 to 1997. His potential was off the charts - he could have been one of the greatest no8s of all time. And during that first phase and by 1990 he was second probably only to Matthaus - arguably the greatest in history - amongst the top central midfielders in the world. It wasn't just his performances at the World Cup against West Germany, Holland and Belgium, take any random game around that time and he was almost invariably miles ahead of everyone on the park. He was sought after by every club in England but the move for elite players at the time was to Serie A.

After the knee injury in 1991, he lost a step and he was never quite the same player again. His injury record was atrocious and he had around 40 operations during his career. Yet despite the injuries and the off-the-pitch chaos, he still performed. Plenty of great goals and showings in Serie A for Lazio and more of the same at Rangers including in the Champions League. And at Euro '96 even though it was mostly Shearer and Seaman that received the plaudits for their goals and penalty save, he had all the flair and positivity of before his leg break, with a touch less athleticism, but a lot more maturity. He looked like England's best player and was the man who make them tick, and you can see how they struggled at times against Switzerland, Scotland and Spain when they reverted to type and bypassed midfield. Even as late as 1997, you can see him bossing Italy in a World Cup qualifier which continued to show that even post-injury Gascoigne was still one of the best players around.

I don't think it would have been any different under any other manager. It was impossible to keep Gascoigne on the straight and narrow given his mental health, irrespective of the man in charge. And he worked under strong man-managers in Terry Venables and Walter Smith, who were highly rated by their players for their considerate and effective man management. I suspect Ferguson's approach would have worked well in the short term, and we may well have got a couple more years of peak Gazza, but eventually he'd have become frustrated with his off-the-field shenanigans and the celebrity entourage around him. You can unpick his career and identify moments where a different approach might have led to a different outcome - him going loopy in the run-up to his knee injury against Forest - but ultimately he still struggled with his demons that arose when he was a kid and which were always going to eat away at his time at the top.
 

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Platt is perfect for today's Wikipedia ratings.

Average midfielder propped up by goals.
Yeah I think he was the penalty taker for some clubs. But he did win the double with Arsenal.
 

Red the Bear

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World class.

English talent gets over rated sometimes , but i feel confident in calling him s ballon do'r level player , in fact he'd probably have won it had England won the world cup in 90 or had he not chosen to waste his life.

Ferguson always calls him his biggest regret and its easy to see why.
 

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I'd say Hoddle was close but not Barnes. But Gazza would be my number 1 (for talent alone, not overall career)
John Barnes at his peak (pre the knee issues) was the best player in England. That was never true of Gascoigne.
 

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The second most talented English midfielder after Charlton. The “what if” question would always remain with him and it would’ve been such a feat to see him playing for Fergie but somehow I have a feeling that his chaotic energy would’ve been too much too handle even for Sir Alex.

It may sound like a weird comparison but at his best game he had almost looked like a midfield (and, somehow, distinctly English) equivalent of Ronaldinho in the way that he had combined his seemingly infinite arsenal of tricks with sturdy physique and never-ending jokes.

There is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between Paul Gascoigne and Ronaldinho.
 

Red the Bear

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Agreed.

Such a unique player. As @Oldyella says, rarely does anyone bring together the creativity and ball-carrying ability of a classic number 10, with the hustle and energy of a box-to-box midfielder. Look at him against Holland in Italia '90, physically going toe-to-toe with supreme athletes like Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Or against West Germany in the semi-final when he kept tabs on Matthaus and the pair end up cancelling each other out much like Charlton and Beckenbauer did in '66. That was part of the reason he far exceeded what the likes of Hoddle and Barnes did in an England shirt. His enthusiasm to graft and get on the ball ensured he thrived in the straight-jacket 4-4-2 system that other creatives struggled to find a niche in.

There are two phases to Gazza's career - the burgeoning talent and peak from 1987 to 1991, and his post-injury phase from 1992 to 1997. His potential was off the charts - he could have been one of the greatest no8s of all time. And during that first phase and by 1990 he was second probably only to Matthaus - arguably the greatest in history - amongst the top central midfielders in the world. It wasn't just his performances at the World Cup against West Germany, Holland and Belgium, take any random game around that time and he was almost invariably miles ahead of everyone on the park. He was sought after by every club in England but the move for elite players at the time was to Serie A.

After the knee injury in 1991, he lost a step and he was never quite the same player again. His injury record was atrocious and he had around 40 operations during his career. Yet despite the injuries and the off-the-pitch chaos, he still performed. Plenty of great goals and showings in Serie A for Lazio and more of the same at Rangers including in the Champions League. And at Euro '96 even though it was mostly Shearer and Seaman that received the plaudits for their goals and penalty save, he had all the flair and positivity of before his leg break, with a touch less athleticism, but a lot more maturity. He looked like England's best player and was the man who make them tick, and you can see how they struggled at times against Switzerland, Scotland and Spain when they reverted to type and bypassed midfield. Even as late as 1997, you can see him bossing Italy in a World Cup qualifier which continued to show that even post-injury Gascoigne was still one of the best players around.

I don't think it would have been any different under any other manager. It was impossible to keep Gascoigne on the straight and narrow given his mental health, irrespective of the man in charge. And he worked under strong man-managers in Terry Venables and Walter Smith, who were highly rated by their players for their considerate and effective man management. I suspect Ferguson's approach would have worked well in the short term, and we may well have got a couple more years of peak Gazza, but eventually he'd have become frustrated with his off-the-field shenanigans and the celebrity entourage around him. You can unpick his career and identify moments where a different approach might have led to a different outcome - him going loopy in the run-up to his knee injury against Forest - but ultimately he still struggled with his demons that arose when he was a kid and which were always going to eat away at his time at the top.
Great post, I'd also add that his energetic play style contributed heavily to his many injuries and subsequent downfall as many teams simply would resort to two footing him at the first opportunity to try to stop him from running havoc.

I always wonder how his career had panned out had he had the protection afforded to moderb footballers.
 

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Barnes was an incredible player - he really was something special, arguably the best player in the league in the late 80s.
No ‘arguably’ about it. It’s just a shame he never got to show what he could do in Europe at that time.
 

Josh 76

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John Barnes at his peak (pre the knee issues) was the best player in England. That was never true of Gascoigne.
John Barnes at his peak was one of the best in Europe. It’s a shame for him that during his peak, English Clubs were banned from Europe. Thank god for that, otherwise Liverpool would have had a couple more European Cups!
 

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Gazza tore it up in one or two games at Italia 90, the worst tournament in living memory, in Scotland and against Scotland, that was about it.

Massively overrated for some reason.

Checks Gazza's nationality, mystery about why he was so massively overrated solved.

The truth is we'll never know how good he really was because of the injury he sustained in 91, which in a cruel twist of fate was self-inflicted.

Certainly didn't come close to living up to the hype though.
It’s funny how everyone seems to have forgotten this because England got to the freaking semi-final. It was such a bad World Cup that they literally changed the rules of the sport in its aftermath to encourage attacking play.
 

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It’s funny how everyone seems to have forgotten this because England got to the freaking semi-final. It was such a bad World Cup that they literally changed the rules of the sport in its aftermath to encourage attacking play.
I know a lot of folk romanticise a negative World Cup. But it's not that, it's simply about recognising how well Gascoigne played against some of the best teams in the world and some of the best midfielders of all time.

If anything, the fact - as a creative player - he shone, despite the negative tactics and weak refereeing, bolsters his case here, rather than undermines it. He was the second most fouled player in the competition behind Maradona.
 

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I know a lot of folk romanticise a negative World Cup. But it's not that, it's simply about recognising how well Gascoigne played against some of the best teams in the world and some of the best midfielders of all time.

If anything, the fact - as a creative player - he shone, despite the negative tactics and weak refereeing, bolsters his case here, rather than undermines it. He was the second most fouled player in the competition behind Maradona.
It's a pity for England none of them thought to foul him four years earlier.
 

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Gazza tore it up in one or two games at Italia 90, the worst tournament in living memory, in Scotland and against Scotland, that was about it.
The level of entertainment in a tournament/how many goals in a tournament shouldn't correlate to judging individual performances, Iniesta played really well in some dour Spanish matches in tournaments, you can still stand out even if the game isn't a good one.
 

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It's a pity for England none of them thought to foul him four years earlier.
Haha. Much maligned motormouth Terry Christian (former presenter of yoof TV programme the Word) is a United fan and he always maintained that Maradona would not have scored that goal of Robson was on the pitch. I’ve always wondered about that. And he always refers back to the United - Barca CWC game as evidence, where Robson was immense and Diego anonymous.

Not really fair of course, because in that game Maradona was not long back from having his ankle obliterated, but hey-ho. We always run with the narratives that please us.
 

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I know a lot of folk romanticise a negative World Cup. But it's not that, it's simply about recognising how well Gascoigne played against some of the best teams in the world and some of the best midfielders of all time.

If anything, the fact - as a creative player - he shone, despite the negative tactics and weak refereeing, bolsters his case here, rather than undermines it. He was the second most fouled player in the competition behind Maradona.
He was good at Italia ‘90, that much is not in dispute. But I still think he’s a very overrated player. Because he’s English, as someone else pointed out.
 

padzilla

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Haha. Much maligned motormouth Terry Christian (former presenter of yoof TV programme the Word) is a United fan and he always maintained that Maradona would not have scored that goal of Robson was on the pitch. I’ve always wondered about that. And he always refers back to the United - Barca CWC game as evidence, where Robson was immense and Diego anonymous.

Not really fair of course, because in that game Maradona was not long back from having his ankle obliterated, but hey-ho. We always run with the narratives that please us.
Good point, there's an argument to be made that if Robbo had took care himself off the pitch more he wouldn't have taken so long to recover from injuries and might have been able to play more for club and country.

It's not one I agree with but one I've heard nevertheless, the same possibly could apply to Gazza too.
 

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There is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between Paul Gascoigne and Ronaldinho.
I’m not saying that he was as good, he wasn’t — Ronaldinho is one of the most gifted footballers of all-time, Gazza was clearly not quite at that level. It’s more about an unusual set of skills & the general attitude on and off the pitch (put through a very distinct Brazilian/English filters).
 

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He was obviously a great talent and he shone very brightly at times. But he seems to have got better with the aid of nostalgia, no doubt added to by people who didn't see his career watching clips on YouTube.

People judge him by what he could've been, not what he was.
 

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It really was.
I always remember this game. Big bunch of us watching it at my mate's house. It was a terrible game but the absolute euphoria when that goal went in was something else.

We all piled out to celebrate after and I ended up in a cell :lol::rolleyes:
 

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Gazza was a sensational talent and would probably have been remembered as one of the best players to ever play the game had he fulfilled his potential and had a long running stable career. Unfortunately that never materialized, but the evidence was plainly evident before it all went south.
 

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One of my childhood heroes. Tottenham had Thorstvedt as keeper at that time, so I watched them play and he was so fun to watch. Remember buying this VHS cassette that I still have somewhere. Gazza - the real me I think it was called. At that time both Arsenal and Tottenham toured Norway like many british teams did during pre-season, and they played here where I live, which is a small city of 20k people.
 

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He was good but not as talented as Rooney, Scholes, Gerrard or Beckham for me. He was Lampard level but without the professionalism.
 

11101

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He was an incredible talent but he only showed it a handful of times and ended up being fairly underwhelming the rest of his career. The press loved him and he remains a case of what could have been rather than what was.

He was exactly like Rooney but without the armies of people looking out for him and keeping him on track.
 

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I’d say he is more talented than Rooney, or probably any other English players I’ve seen. But his lack of professionalism has ruined his career.
I'm not sure you can call it a lack of professionalism. He was dealing with a host of undiagnosed mental health issues for most of his career.

The guy has since been diagnosed with bi-polar, OCD, depression and anxiety and suffered with Bulimia. He's also an alcoholic (along with substance abuse and an addictive personality in general) which could well have started with him self-medicating.

An early diagnosis and treatment may have made the difference but we'll never know.

As for Op, he was a very talented player but no I don't think Fergie could have done much, given the above.
 

RedRonaldo

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I'm not sure you can call it a lack of professionalism. He was dealing with a host of undiagnosed mental health issues for most of his career.

The guy has since been diagnosed with bi-polar, OCD, depression and anxiety and suffered with Bulimia. He's also an alcoholic (along with substance abuse and an addictive personality in general) which could well have started with him self-medicating.

An early diagnosis and treatment may have made the difference but we'll never know.

As for Op, he was a very talented player but no I don't think Fergie could have done much, given the above.
I don't know what do you call that, he was erratic on the pitch and has an unhealthy lifestyle off the pitch, he was also overweight with his junk food diet, and then of course everyone knows his life is full of problems - alcohol, mental and emotional. He was violent to his wife, harassing his ex, assaulting photographer, drunk driving, possession of cocaine and was sent to jailed numerous occasions. Its really hard to differentiate which one is on his part, and which is is not (suffered from mental issues etc). I am not sure if you could call that professional.
 

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Anyone calling Gazza overrated is either too young to have actually watched him play, or has forgotten how good he was. The guy was absolutely ridiculously talented, easily the most naturally gifted English player in modern football.
 

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I don't know what do you call that, he was erratic on the pitch and has an unhealthy lifestyle off the pitch, he was also overweight with his junk food diet, and then of course everyone knows his life is full of problems - alcohol, mental and emotional. He was violent to his wife, harassing his ex, assaulting photographer, drunk driving, possession of cocaine and was sent to jailed numerous occasions. Its really hard to differentiate which one is on his part, and which is is not (suffered from mental issues etc). I am not sure if you could call that professional.
Racially abused people as well.
 

NasirTimothy

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Anyone calling Gazza overrated is either too young to have actually watched him play, or has forgotten how good he was. The guy was absolutely ridiculously talented, easily the most naturally gifted English player in modern football.
Nope, saw him play. Overrated.
 

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I don't know what do you call that, he was erratic on the pitch and has an unhealthy lifestyle off the pitch, he was also overweight with his junk food diet, and then of course everyone knows his life is full of problems - alcohol, mental and emotional. He was violent to his wife, harassing his ex, assaulting photographer, drunk driving, possession of cocaine and was sent to jailed numerous occasions. Its really hard to differentiate which one is on his part, and which is is not (suffered from mental issues etc). I am not sure if you could call that professional.
I don't disagree with most of that. I suppose it's a question as to whether he even had the capacity to be professional in the first place. As you say it's hard to know where one thing started and another began so I'm probably splitting hairs here.