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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 15:42 GMT
Last chance saloon
By John Sinnott

Little more than a week after the premature death of George Best, another football legend's career has taken an alcohol-related turn for the worst.

After only 39 days in charge as manager of Kettering Town, Paul Gascoigne was sacked on Monday amid claims of him being drunk on the job.

Like Best before him, Gascoigne is becoming more known for his off-field problems than his on-field genius.

BBC Sport spoke to two people with a unique insight into the problems footballers face in dealing with addiction.

PETER KAY - chief executive of Sporting Chance, the charity set up by Tony Adams to help sportsmen with addictions

Whenever I think of Paul Gascoigne I can't help thinking of the 1970s David Cassidy song "I am a clown".

Sometimes I think the world is a circus town
Sometimes I feel like a lonely inside show

Paul Gascoigne
I think it is extremely unlikely he will live to the age that George Best did
Peter Kay
Sporting Chance
We dealt a lot with George Best a couple of months before he died.

I chatted to George and he even went through a full assessment and was given a place to start on a Monday.

But he then went out on a bender and got drunk and never came in. We knew that was the end for him.

We have held out our hand to Paul. He knows what we do and where we are. We would welcome a call from him.

But if he doesn't want to do anything and follow George Best's example then there is nothing more we can do.

George Best was addicted to alcohol. But he had a secondary addiction and that was George Best. With high profile people they start to believe their own myth and that's much like Paul.

Our work is all about supporting human beings. We understand addicts and we understand that addiction is so powerful it precludes them from seeing beyond that next drink.

It's the pressure of being a genius. If you're a genius then you think you have to be a genius every day of your life.

Alcoholism is a disease of denial. When George precluded himself from our treatment by going out on that bender, we knew he wouldn't live much longer.

I have that same fear in the pit of my stomach about Paul Gascoigne. At the moment I think it is extremely unlikely he will live to the age that George Best did.

Paul Gascoigne is not a stupid, selfish man. He is a self-confessed alcoholic.

When he starts drinking he loses the ability of choice. It will never get better if he carries on.

We can help him quietly and solidly if he comes to us.

Kay was keen to emphasise he does not normally discuss individual cases and that confidentiality was one of the keys to the success of Sporting Chance.

GORDON TAYLOR - Professional Footballers Association chief executive

The PFA has been training Paul as a coach and we had also ensured he was being looked after by (Kettering Town assistant coach) Paul Davis.

That's why we are so disappointed about what has happened. We have to look at how to address Paul's personal problems.

That is easier said then done because you can't force people into treatment.

We have had a lot of success with Sporting Chance, but it's up to Paul to address those problems.

The very nature of professional sport is in a way addictive - adrenaline can be very addictive - and that's why it's hard for players when they stop playing.

We witnessed the problems with George Best and it looks to be repeating itself.

Paul Gascoigne is the same. A very talented player, very hyperactive, who loves the centre stage. Everybody loves him.

We hope to try and get him back on track in his career.



SEE ALSO
Gascoigne receives Davis backing
06 Dec 05 |  Non League
Gazza freed after assault inquiry
06 Dec 05 |  Merseyside
Kettering sack manager Gascoigne
05 Dec 05 |  Non League


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