Paul John Gascoigne (born 27 May 1967 in Dunston, Gateshead, England), often referred to as Gazza, is a retired English footballer, who is widely regarded as one of the most gifted players of his generation. He has also had spells as a manager and coach. Playing in the position of midfield, his career included spells at Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Everton; and he was also capped 57 times for England. He was involved in many off-field incidents, and is believed never to have fulfilled his potential as a player. Since his career finished he has suffered from pneumonia, alcoholism, mental illness and personal legal problems.
Gascoigne was born in the Dunston area of Gateshead, the second of four children of John Gascoigne (a hod carrier) and his wife Carol. Initially the family lived in a single upstairs room in a council house with a shared bathroom, and moved several times during Gascoigne's early life. When Paul was ten his father moved away to Germany to find work, and Paul suffered a personal tragedy when he witnessed the death of Steven Spraggon, the younger brother of a friend, who was knocked down by a car outside a sweet shop. He suffered further trauma soon after when his father suffered a brain haemorrhage and was in hospital for eight months.
Gascoigne started playing football at the age of four, playing almost non-stop in the street and nearby park. He played for his school (Brighton Avenue Primary School) team from the age of eight, and later played for the local Redheugh Boys' Club despite being under the minimum age. He attended Breckenbeds Junior High School (next door to the East Coast Main Line and closed in September 1996) on Saltwell Road South in Low Fell, then the Heathfield Senior High School (also closed in September 1996) on Durham Road (A167). Other pupils of this school included Steve Stone, John Wilson and Tracey Whitwell (actress).