'Save yourself Gazza'
Irish soccer legend Paul McGrath has urged Paul Gascoigne to "save himself" after shocking images emerged of the former England hero's latest drinking binge.
Photographs of a bedraggled, cut and bruised Gazza on the front page of an English tabloid on Saturday cast fresh fears for the future of the 48-year-old, with McGrath imploring the fallen idol to bounce back before it is too late.
McGrath has had his own battle with the bottle down the years and he suspects Gascoigne may be pushing his body to the point of no return after his latest incident.
McGrath has had his own battle with the bottle down the years
"When I saw those images of Paul, my heart went out to him and I just hope he can save himself before it is too late," Sunday World columnist McGrath told us.
"I saw a reporter talking about him on TV this morning in the past tense, like he wasn't here any more. Well, he is still here and he can bounce back if he finds it within himself to do it.
"My concern for Gazza is that he will get to a point where his body gives up and will take no more. I hope he is not there yet, but you can see it getting that way.
"My message to Paul would be get all the help you can pal because there are still a lot of people out here who love you and want you to get better."
McGrath admits he can see similarities in Gascoigne's story to his own, with his award-winning book on his own battle with alcoholism striking a chord with so many of his admirers.
McGrath tackles Gazza as Ireland draw 1-1 with England at Italia '90
He also opened his heart to the Sunday World in a famous interview with Roy Curtis back in 2013, as he admitted anxiety forced him to turn to alcohol and he is not alone in this battle.
"I have people ringing me now to talk through their problems all the time, people you wouldn’t even imagine that would have these kind of issues in their lives," continues McGrath.
"Those who read that book associate it with the emotions I put into it and so many former sports people struggle to cope with life when their careers end.
"They ask themselves; how can I replace the buzz of being on the field and having the crowd cheering me? I went through the same thing.
"This is clearly a problem for Gazza now. He loved football so much and now he can't do it any more. He doesn’t know where to turn next.
"I get the feeling that Paul doesn't know why people still want to know him.
"He looks like a guy who doesn’t know what his purpose is in life any more.
"Gazza can't climb the mountains or score the goals he used to, but he is still a wonderful hero for millions of people and he should never forget that.
"Paul has already struck me as a kid at heart, someone who never entirely grew up and that is why he is such a fun guy to be around.It is one of the reasons why everyone took him into their hearts.
"I have been in a place where you feel as if there is nothing else to do but drink your troubles away, but there is a way out of that and Paul needs to be reminded of that today.
"All I can say is I wish him all the best and the last thing any of us want is to wake up one day soon and hear that Gazza is not with us any more. Please God that doesn't happen."