Troubled ex-footballer Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne has opened up about his life-and-death struggle with the bottle in his first TV interview since returning from a detox clinic in America.
Gascoigne, who has been battling alcoholism for years, flew out to the States for treatment in February after footage of him in a drunk and incoherent state was published online by a tabloid newspaper.
The former England international appeared on ITV’s Daybreak this morning and spoke candidly about his experience of rehab, explaining how he begged doctors “please don’t let me die – I need to water the plants.”
“When I went to the treatment centre they tried to detox us but they couldn’t so they rushed me to hospital and that’s where it got quite serious,” said the 45-year-old.
“I just remember the guy, the doctor at the treatment centre saying ‘I don’t think this guy is going to make it’. I put my head up a little bit and I was tubed, I had tubes on my arms and body and getting injected and I just actually said ‘please don’t let me die I need to water the plants’. The plants were more important than me. The plants passed away and I survived.”
During the interview Gazza shrugged off comparisons to the late alcoholic Manchester United star George Best saying that, unlike Best, he actively wants to “get well.”
“Well you know, God bless him he’s passed away. I was friends with George but I just felt like George didn’t want to get well, I’m trying you know. I try so hard to do it,” he said.
“Just have a little relapse then think ‘oh yeah go again’ you know but then I’ve got to be careful like I said you know because sometimes when I’m drunk people can take advantage of us.”
Gazza, who insisted that he’s “excited about what the future holds,” admitted that his recent near-death experience was brought about by a two-and-a-half week binge and said that he intends to take life one day at a time from now on.
“I didn’t ask to be an alcoholic but I must admit I worked on it,” he said. “But unfortunately I am an alcoholic and I’ve just got to remind myself of the consequences I actually did in regards to the loss of money, marriage and even the car.
“I’ll get them back in time it’s just a matter of just working at it. You know if I went to any lengths to get my drink then I’ve got to go to any lengths – a bit more to stay sober you know.”
Watch a clip of Gazza’s Daybreak appearance below, and you can see the full interview at itv.com/daybreak.