Gazza rehab: Paul Gascoigne reveals US clinic drama

Paul Gascoigne
Image caption Concerns for Gascoigne's wellbeing were raised again earlier this year

Football star Paul Gascoigne has revealed he thought he was going to die during his most recent spell in rehab.

The former England midfielder has flown back to the UK after more than a month at a clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, that specialises in treating alcoholism.

The 45-year-old told the Sun newspaper that he heard three doctors conclude he was going to pass away, before he slipped into a three-day coma.

His life was saved, but Gascoigne said: "I thought I was on my way out."

Fresh fears for the health of Gascoigne, who has battled against alcoholism for several years, emerged at a public appearance in Northampton in January.

'Total wreck'

Within days, he had been flown to the private clinic in the US and Gascoigne - nicknamed Gazza - said he begged its doctors at the clinic to save his life as he went through the detox process.

"Three doctors didn't think I would make it," he said.

"It has got to inspire me to never let this happen again. I've come through that - death. I was dead."

He added: "I thought I was on my way out. I looked like a corpse. I was a total wreck."

Gascoigne, whose football clubs included Newcastle United, Tottenham, Lazio, Rangers and Everton, has had a long-term battle against alcohol addiction.

He said his latest problems started in Dubai last summer when he started drinking alcohol again after 17 months "dry". The ex-footballer said he followed that by staying off alcohol for the following six months, but his own despair at his lapse meant that he failed to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and isolated himself, barely eating. "I was living like a dry drunk," he said.

Eventually, he succumbed and started drinking heavily again, a situation which came to public attention at the Northampton charity event when he broke down sobbing on stage.

On his admission to the US treatment centre, Gascoigne's management company said he was alcoholic with "complex issues" which were being dealt with by professionals.

It has since emerged that the public appearance could still raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Gascoigne said he had no recollection of being there.

'Another chance'

Gascoigne's drinking problems started during his playing days - he was admitted to the Priory Hospital, near Southampton, in 1998, shortly after his divorce from wife Sheryl.

Three years later, while playing at Everton, Gascoigne admitted himself to an alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Arizona on the insistence of his then manager Walter Smith.

In 2008, four years after retiring, he was arrested in Newcastle and detained under the Mental Health Act.

He was later sectioned following reports that he was acting strangely in Hemel Hempstead.

More recently he has been treated at The Priory again and at the Providence Projects treatment centre in Bournemouth.

Gascoigne told the Sun that the way forward for him now was to start attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings again.

"Meetings are really important. I was too weak, I stopped going to them. I have to start going.

"I should be dead. The doctors said I would not make it. But I'm here, I have another chance - and I'm going to take it."

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