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Saturday, August 15, 1998 Published at 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK


'Another tragedy for Paul' - Hoddle

Eve of season tragedy for Middlesbrough star

England coach Glenn Hoddle has described as "another tragedy" the death of a close friend of Paul Gascoigne.

A post-mortem examination has failed to establish why David Cheek, 43, died after a night out with the Middlesborough footballer.

Mr Cheek, 43, was found dead by another of the player's close friends, Jimmy "Five Bellies" Gardner at a hotel near Gateshead, Tyneside, early on Friday.

Speaking on BBC One's Football Focus, Hoddle said: "It's another tragedy that has happened around Paul.

"It's a difficult one for the lad and I feel for him at this moment in time because he has had this situation right the way through his career."

The post-mortem investigation carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper was inconclusive.

It was initially suspected that Mr Cheek, also of Gateshead, had died of a heart attack following an evening with Mr Gascoigne and other friends at the Romano restaurant in the nearby MetroCentre complex.

[ image: MetroCentre: Popular for shopping and eating]
MetroCentre: Popular for shopping and eating
Further tests will be carried out. Police say the death is not being treated as suspicious.

Despite the tragedy and a late fitness test, the player came out onto the field for Middlesbrough's first Premiership game of the season against Leeds on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Cheek, a divorced father of four, had been a friend of the player for more than 20 years and the death comes at the end of a week dogged by adverse publicity for Gascoigne.

England coach Glenn Hoddle sparked a row after he wrote in his soon to be published account of England's World Cup campaign that Gascoigne has "acted like a man possessed" when he was dropped from the squad.

Reports later in the week suggested that Gascoigne's troubled relationship to his wife Sheryl was to end with a "quickie" divorce.

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14 Aug 98 | Football
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