Paul Gascoigne still believes he can “get back on track” after his latest “relapse”, according to players’ chief Gordon Taylor.
Gascoigne, who has spoken about alcoholism problems in the past and was sectioned five years ago under the Mental Health Act, appeared to be unwell and trembling at a charity appearance in Northampton on Thursday.
His agent Terry Baker said the 45-year-old had been drinking and needs immediate help, suggesting Gascoigne’s life is “always in danger”.
The Professional Footballers’ Association have vowed to continue giving the former England midfielder as much support as possible, and having been in contact with Gascoigne over the weekend, the union’s chief executive Taylor told Press Association Sport: “He still feels he is capable of getting back on track and [that] it is a relapse he has had.
“I can only say, whatever help he needs, he must come on [board] and we will help to provide it.
“I think he does need specialist care and a very strong 24-hour support system, but again, it needs him to be part of that.”
Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker admits he is struggling to see a positive outcome for his former England and Tottenham team-mate Gascoigne, writing on Twitter: “I can only hope he finds peace somehow, but fear those hopes may be forlorn.”
Taylor has expressed his concern that the case could be comparable with that of George Best, the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger who died aged 59 in 2005 after a long struggle with alcoholism.
He is adamant that the PFA will not be giving up on Gascoigne, though, and after ex-United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel commented on Twitter that the organisation needed to “step up” their efforts to help the troubled star, Taylor has also stressed how much work they have already put in.
“We have tried to support him throughout all his problems with rehabilitation at various clinics, with medical help,” Taylor said.
“We go one step forward and two back at times and this is just the situation.
“If we are not careful, it is going to be akin to George Best. It is unfortunate, but we try to keep going.
“I can’t think of a player who has had more support and constant help over the number of years that we have been there for Paul.
“It is quite ironic - it is nice that people like Peter Schmeichel care about him, but they don’t appreciate the work we have done for him, a lot of which has to be confidential.
“If anything, I have been criticised at times for keeping faith and trying to keep going with him.”
Taylor said the PFA had taken Gascoigne in just a few weeks ago for detoxification, and that the former player had to engage with the people trying to help him.
He told BBC Radio Five: “I think it is fair to say above all I don’t want him to be a tragedy so that everybody will say everybody should have done more.
“I would like, whilst he is living and we have still got a chance, for it to be a success story.
“But I do feel that it does need a team of people with one intention, to keep him alive, to get him back on track and to make his life seem worthwhile.
“That is probably the most important job, because somebody out there, including me, has to be able to connect with Paul to make him make that quantum change in his life.”