Twenty-five years have past since Paul Gascoigne set the footballing world alight at Italia 90, and he is still remembered as one of the best players England has produced. However, endless tabloid tales and numerous run ins with the police have stained the legacy he will leave behind. Gascoigne sets the record straight on both the player and the person, to varying results.
All of the key moments of his playing career are covered, from exactly what he said after getting too close for comfort with Vinnie Jones, to the IRA death threats he received after that celebration in the Old Firm derby with Rangers. It is this time of his life which is captured fantastically, and with great fondness from both himself and his fellow pros in front of the camera.
The documentary follows the Gateshead born lad from his early days at Redheugh Boy’s Club, to later spells with Middlesbrough and Everton, highlighting his off the field troubles throughout. Director Jane Preston pieces together golden archive footage, with new and old interviews from some of the sport’s biggest names, but avoids delving further into the demons of his past.
Gascoigne’s rise to the top and elegance with the ball, and world, at his feet is brilliantly told and then poetically juxtaposed against his fall from grace.
Although it’s not as instructive as you’d expect, it does deal with some of Gazza’s personal troubles, which he opens up to easily with that raw and scarred personality we’ve come to expect. Stories of a friend’s death in his childhood, and later a family member’s, help depict where his deep fear of death stems from. The documentary also sheds further light onto his involvement in the phone hacking scandal and the strain it put on his family. Both built up and torn down by the press, the frighteningly predictive interview with Terry Wogan serves as a poignant turning point.
There has been some criticism for glossing over the darker days, but that’s not what you pay for, nor want to see (Preston’s hard to watch 2013 TV documentary; Being Paul Gascoinge filled that quota). This is very much the Gazza we all want to remember. You watch it for his humour, his emotion and all of his skills and thrills along the way, and it does not fault at that.
DVD Bonus Features
– Additional Interviews: Paul Gascoigne + Gary Lineker
– The Making Of
– Cinematic Trailer