Only A Game? - Gascoigne needs help not ridicule

England's Paul Gascoigne wipes tears away after defeat by West Germany in Turin
England's Paul Gascoigne wipes tears away after defeat by West Germany in Turin

Football fans really are a heartless lot at times. Paul Gascoigne is a man with a sickness; he suffers from depression and is an alcoholic, yet so called members of the human race insist on kicking poor Gazza when he’s down.

Gascoigne appeared at a charity function last weekend and was said to have looked unwell and was shaking. The 45 year-old former Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Lazio star was then reported to have broken down and started to sob uncontrollably in front of everyone.

People can have their opinions and that’s fine, but no matter what way you look at Paul Gascoigne’s situation you cannot deny that it’s a total tragedy.

Some people have zero tolerance when it comes to such issues as addiction and mental health; they view anyone purporting to suffer from one or both as needy, attention seeking hypochondriacs.

Paul Gascoigne is perhaps one of the most talented players to ever set foot on a football pitch. Yes, he made some very bad choices in his life but no matter how anyone tries to dress this up, Paul Gascoigne is a sick man in need of help, not mockery or ridicule.

The arrogance and indeed ignorance of some people this week never failed to shock or surprise me.

These so called members of the human race feel that it’s their duty or even dare I say right, to pass judgement on Gascoigne - a man, I hasten to add, whom most of these people have never met.

If Paul Gascoigne had to be admitted to hospital for cancer treatment we would be up in arms if anyone dared suggest he deserved his misfortune - so why should it be any different when someone suffers from alcohol addiction and acute depression?

Some believe that Gascoigne is the architect of his own downfall and that may be the case, but if someone is incapable of helping themselves shouldn’t that mean that those who can help that person do so?

Gascoigne came into football when the wages paid to players was nowhere near the extortionate amounts that are being bandied about now.

Most players in today’s game can retire and live off the money they earned in their playing days but it’s a different ball game for Gascoigne’s generation.

Players like Gascoigne have been left behind. Their fame and fortune vanished as quickly as they came about and as irrefutable as that is, it’s wholly unacceptable for people to sit idly by and watch a man self-destruct.

The obscene opinions shared on social networking sites such as Twitter this week about Gascoigne have been nothing short of disgraceful.

So called members of the human race Tweeted ‘I hope Gascoigne gets what’s coming to him - he deserves everything he gets’. How can someone who does not know Gascoigne personally come out with something so ill-thought out, moronic and altogether venomous? It baffles me.

Football fans from all over England showed their support for Gascoigne when many of them cheered for a full 60 seconds during many of yesterday’s games. It’s good to know that someone as charismatic and colourful as Gascoigne still has some support but it’s important to stress that tokenistic gestures will not get Gascoigne to where he needs to be. The man has an illness and the only way to help someone get better is to help and treat them, not ridicule and laugh at them.