Tuesday, October 13, 1998 Published at 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Gazza's 'brave decision'
Gazza shares a joke with Les Ferdinand of Spurs
A tearful Paul Merson has welcomed the news that his former Middlesbrough and England team-mate Paul Gascoigne has entered a 'drying out' clinic.
Middlesbrough confirmed Gascoigne had entered the clinic, where the former Newcastle and Tottenham star will face intensive counselling.
The 30-year-old former Arsenal star broke down in tears on Monday as he told a news conference at England's Bisham Abbey training ground of his own battle with drink.
"I'm really happy for Paul," he said. "It takes a lot to admit that you've had enough and can't stop. But the hard work starts now.
"Gazza will have been crying all weekend. They support you in the clinic but you feel that you've let everybody down and your self-esteem is really low."
After 10 minutes Merson was unable to go on and was led away with tears welling up in his eyes, after admitting: "I'm sorry, it brings back a lot of memories."
Gascoigne, 31, checked into the Priory clinic in Hampshire last week after injuring his face during a drunken binge in Dublin.
On Saturday Middlesbrough manager Bryan Robson confirmed Gascoigne was suffering from stress and alcohol problems.
"Everybody keeps talking about the drink and it's a little bit of that because he does get down at times."
Steve Jacobs, the addiction counsellor who helped Merson and England star Tony Adams overcome drink problems, warned Gascoigne he would be dead by the age of 40 if he did not seek help.
Former England and Newcastle team-mate Chris Waddle called on the media to respect Gascoigne's privacy.
"And every time it quietens down, people start writing or taking photographs of him - this week we've seen him with a broom in his hand and it gives people headlines," he said.
Waddle said: "Everybody says 'Let's help Gazza sort his problems out and encourage him' but the only way he'll sort himself out is if people leave him alone."
His comments contrasted with the front page of The Sun which offered a crate of Newcastle Brown Ale to the "first reader who spots Gazza having a drink".