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Stay in rehab, Gazza tells Sansom

Published 08/06/2015

Paul Gascoigne bares all in a new film documentary about his life
Paul Gascoigne bares all in a new film documentary about his life

Paul Gascoigne has pleaded for troubled former England and Arsenal star Kenny Sansom to stay in rehab because it is his best chance of kicking alcohol into touch.

Gascoigne, a much-loved former England and Tottenham midfielder who himself has battled mental illness, drugs and alcohol addiction, urged Sansom not to "do a runner" from the detox clinic. He needs to "try and stay for once".

Gascoigne was speaking after media photographs showed a dishevelled Sansom, 56, swigging from a bottle and slumped in a park.

The Professional Footballers' Association have confirmed that the former England defender has entered a detox programme and will be given all the support he needs to beat alcoholism and a gambling addiction.

Gascoigne, 48, who was attending the south London premiere of a film on his life, troubles and career, warned Sansom that getting sober "is tough. It is not a nice thing".

He said that Sansom will have to get to grips with the fact that "sometimes (people) have to be harsh" in order for you to overcome alcohol problems.

Offering personal words of advice, Gascoigne said: "Kenny, if you want help - ask for it because there are people out there who are willing to help you. Stop whingeing and get on with it.

"I have slipped up a few times , I will be the first to admit that, but at least I went in there and stuck it out. I did my time and have come out the better side of it.

"Sometimes when so much gets on top of (me) I forget to ask for help."

Gascoigne's 90-minute documentary has been written and directed by filmmaker Jane Preston. It includes contributions from Gary Lineker, Jose Mourinho and Wayne Rooney , who described Gascoigne as the best player ever to have worn an England shirt.

It charts his rise from a young lad kicking a tennis ball on the streets of Gateshead, through his rocky career, marred by injury and much-hyped transfer deals, and overcoming the lows of his addiction.

Gascogine set a record when he transferred from Tottenham Hotspur to Italian club Lazio for £8.5 million in 1992, and is etched in sporting history for crying in front of millions when England failed to make it through to the Fifa World Cup Final in 1990.

But he has also battled mental illness, drugs and alcohol addiction. He was sectioned by his family when he became convinced his phone was being hacked, but last month won victory in the High Court as one of the celebrities awarded damages for phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers.

Sansom won 86 caps between 1979 and 1988, making more than 300 appearances for Arsenal having joined the Gunners from Crystal Palace, where he broke into the first team at the age of just 16.

He has previously said he contemplated suicide after becoming homeless because of his drinking and gambling problems.

His battle with alcoholism is well documented, described in depth in his 2008 autobiography, and Sansom's latest interview with a Sunday newspaper detailed how he would gamble his £622 monthly pension from the PFA before drinking himself to sleep, often in the parks around Bromley in south-east London.

PFA head of player welfare Michael Bennett confirmed the union had now taken formal steps to help Sansom get the support he desperately needed, with close links to establishments such as the Sporting Chance clinic, founded by ex-Arsenal defender Tony Adams.

Of Sansom, Gascoigne said: "The help is there for him but does he want it?

"It is up to him, I suppose.

"I wish him well , of course I do. Come on Kenny you can do it.

"If he does not like it, then go back to what he is doing - which is just sitting on his arse, on his backside drinking again. Give it a go."

:: Gascoigne is released in cinemas for one night only, tonight and on DVD from Monday June 15.

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