'That was the saddest part' - Stuart McCall opens up on Paul Gascoigne Rangers departure
Stuart McCall has argued that things could have turned out different for Paul Gascoigne had he opted to stay at Rangers in 1998.
The charismatic Geordie spent almost three years at Ibrox, and was a key component in the Gers side that lifted a consecutive league titles in 1996 and 1997.
But the England international left Glasgow before he could he could help the Light Blues to a tenth straight triumph, moving to Teeside in a deal worth around £4.5 million partway through the following campaign.
Gascoigne went on to have a well-documented battle with several off-field problems in the latter stages of his career, and McCall believes that had he decided to stay in Scotland, he might have been able to prolong his time at the top.
Speaking on the One Last Match podcast, when asked if we could have seen more of Gazza in his prime had he not left Ibrox, the former Rangers midfielder said: "Without a doubt.
“That was the saddest part, the last season, going for the elusive ten [in-a-row]. Gazza left halfway through the season and went to Middlesbrough.
“And it was sad really because when Paul had responsibility, when his wife and the kids were up the road, he had responsibility taking them to school in the morning, picking them up in the afternoon.
“As soon that went and his missus had gone back down to London, what did he do in the afternoon? He went shooting, he went fishing, a game of snooker, always probably ended up with a couple of beers.
“And he had no responsibility then and, a bit lonely if you like. He had his pals, Five Bellies and that, but not having the kids around and his missus around affected him a lot, his performances.
“He had a couple of injuries and I don’t think in that last season we saw the Paul Gascoigne we had seen in the previous two. And that was a major part in us not reaching what we wanted to.
“I think Walter [Smith] and Archie [Knox] would have been fantastic for him. I’m sure Paul would be the first to say, some of the scrapes he got himself into, Walter stood by him.
“But it came to a stage where, wouldn’t say gone off the rails a little bit, but again I keep going back to the word responsibility. Not having people there, having too much time on his hands.
“Not knowing what to do with his time, getting caught up in the wrong things maybe. Which affected his football.
“As I said he had injuries along the way and we had a lot of midfielders at the time. Barry Ferguson was coming through, [Gennaro] Gattuso was there, Jonas Thern had come in, Jorg Albertz could play there, myself, Derek McInness, Ian Ferguson, you know, we had a lot of midfielders.
“It maybe got to the stage where Walter couldn’t maybe trust or rely on Paul at times, which was sad really, because I have no doubt if we had the Gazza of the first two seasons that I had with him he would have been brilliant. But unfortunately things off the field affected him probably as much as they did on it.”