Title: Gazza: My Story
Author: Paul Gascoigne
Page Count/Review Word Count: 536
He’s the footballer we love to hate to love – Paul Gascoigne, one of the original ‘bad boys‘ of football, a man who’s faced many of the same struggles as George Best. His bestselling autobiography covers everything you’d expect, from his early career to his downfall at the hands of drink and drugs.
In fact, My Story leaves off before the modern day, which can only be a blessing – since its publication, the ex-footballer has been dismissed from his managerial post at Kettering Town and been in trouble with the media due to his run-ins with the law. That said, you can hardly fault Headline, the book’s publishers, for failing to realise that Gazza’s career as a bad boy was only just beginning back in 2004, when the book was first published.
The actual quality of the writing is pretty good, way more than you’d expect from a guy who’s presumably lost half of his brain cells from too many headers and too many drinks. One can only presume that it’s because of the talents of Hunter Davies, Gazza’s co-author – Hunter is a veteran journalist, the author of dozens of books including the only ever authorised biography of The Beatles. I can’t help but feeling that it’s his influence which has made this book so readable, a little like the written equivalent of watching reality TV shows.
The book is also packed with photographs from the footballer’s own archive, from the young Gazza in his football kit to a shot of the star fishing “while in Arizona at the Cottonwood clinic” in May 2003. The caption for the photo reveals that the star keeps it in his wallet so that his happy, smiling face will reassure him whenever he’s feeling down – not that it always works for him.
Now, you’d think that at over five hundred pages, Gazza’s autobiography would simply be too long to be enjoyable – surprisingly, that’s not the case. I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a bigot when it comes to books, and I’m quick to judge celebrity novels and autobiographies, but this is actually one of the better ones and it’s just the right length to get the job done without boring you along the way.
Of course, I wouldn’t recommend reading it if you’re not a football fan, because ultimately that’s what it’s all about – this isn’t like the story of a rock ‘n’ roll star, which you can read and be absorbed by whether you’re a fan of their music or not. Gaza is the type of legend who you can only appreciate if you watched his career develop, otherwise he’s just a crazy old man who’s throwing his life away to the demon drink.
It’s tragic really, as the media are all too keen to portray Gazza as a scoundrel who can’t control his emotions. Here, you see a more civilised side to him, you see inside the confused mind of Paul Gascoigne and realise that he’s a person just like us. I think that’s probably why he wanted to release the book in the first place.