Undoubtedly one of England’s greatest ever talents, Paul Gascoigne’s time at the top was eventful to say the least.
Famously labelled as being “daft as a brush”, Gazza was, quite simply, one of the best players England has ever produced.
Despite a career that included spells with Tottenham, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton, his on the field achievements never quite lived up to his stellar talent.
That’s not to say there weren’t golden moments, there were, but ultimately this is a guy who is as famous for his off field antics as he was for his on pitch glories.
Time and again though, Gazza could light up a match and provided more great moments than many of his contemporaries.
Here are 5 of Gazza’s best goals so you can see for yourself.
England V Scotland (1996)
Gascoigne’s most famous goal and one of the greatest in England’s history occurred in 1996.
Everything about it was perfect. England were enjoying their summer as hosts of Euro 96, the opponents were Scotland of all teams, while qualification for the knockout stages was on offer for the victor.
In the match itself, the teams were deadlocked at half time, taking until the 53rd minute for Alan Shearer to finally put the hosts ahead.
Then, after David Seaman had saved a Scottish penalty, Gazza took over.
As the ball was floated towards England’s number eight, Gascoigne feinted to shoot and instead flicked the ball over Colin Hendry in the Scottish defence, met the ball on the other side of the beaten defender, and caught the ball sweetly on the volley to beat Andy Gorum in the Scottish goal.
Our hero then followed up on this iconic goal with an equally iconic celebration in which he sprinted over to the side of the pitch and laid down on his back for his team-mates to spray water in his mouth in a cheeky reference to dentist chair headlines generated by England’s pre-Euro 96 tour to Hong Kong.
Tottenham V Arsenal (1991)
Gazza loved a day out Wembley.
Five years before that goal against Scotland, he scored another worldie on the hallowed London turf.
Following on from his memorable contribution at the Italy 90 World Cup, Gascoigne had become a national hero and mega star and, by 1991, was the biggest name in English football.
Before he had finalised a move to the Italian league, he helped his team at the time, Tottenham, to a nice shiny bit of silver wear.
In the first-ever FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, Spurs met with fierce north London rivals Arsenal to duke it out for the rights to play in May’s final.
Arsenal, champions that year, were the favourites, but Spurs had no need to worry.
Just five minutes into the contest, referee Ray Lewis awarded Tottenham a free kick 35 yards from the Arsenal goal.
The improbable proved probable as Gazza fizzed the ball the epic distance with enough power to blast through David Seaman’s gloves and into the top corner of the net in an all time FA Cup classic.
Lazio V Pescara (1992)
How old is Paul Gascoigne? That’s his business, but when Gazza was 25 he took the decision to move to Italy. At the time, Serie A was the biggest domestic league in Europe and home to the biggest stars of the day.
Gazza definitely belonged in this esteemed company and, when Lazio came calling, it was time to leave Spurs and England behind and seek a new challenge in Rome.
His spell in the Italian capital wasn’t as successful as he would have wanted but that isn’t to say he didn’t produce on occasions.
The highlight of his Lazio career came away at Pescara when, ten yards inside the Pescara half, the maverick midfielder picked the ball up and weaved in and out of five Pescara defenders before slotting the ball past the keeper with his weaker left foot and wheeling away to Lazio’s elated army of fans.
Rangers V Aberdeen (1995)
After his time in Italy was up, Gazza decided to return back to the UK but chose not to come back to England and instead to try his luck north of the border.
Pitching up in Glasgow proved to be a wise move. His time with Rangers was among the most enjoyable of his career and he quickly got his career back on track.
Gascoigne’s first season in Scotland culminated in a hat-trick against Aberdeen which would secure Gers’ eighth successive Scottish premiership title.
Of the three goals Gascoigne scored that day, the middle one – where he collects the ball in his own half, glides past numerous Dons’ defenders before unleashing a thundering strike into the net – was a real thing of beauty.
Today, the relationship between Gazza and the Rangers fans is as strong as ever. Where does Paul Gascoigne live? Well, not in Glasgow but, although he avoids making public appearances, whenever he goes back to Ibrox, he is given a heroes return. Not something most Englishman are treated to in Scotland’s second city.
England V Moldova (1997)
On route to qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France, England were grouped with Poland, Georgia, Italy and Moldovia.
In one memorable match at Wembley, Moldova came travelled to London looking to upset England’s chances of making the finals the following June.
There was no chance of that happening, however, as Glenn Hoddle’s men ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.
The third of England’s four goals that night will forever be remembered as a Gazza special.
Sadly, that qualification campaign proved to be the beginning of the end for Gazza in an England shirt.
Although Gascoigne took part in at least half of England’s qualifying campaign, ultimately he was left out of Hoddle’s squad for France and took the news badly to say the least.
What did Paul Gascoigne say at the time? We don’t know exactly, but we do know he proceeded to wreck his manager’s room and the Paul Gascoigne latest is that he never played for England again.