For Tottenham and Lazio, two clubs who have never met competitively before this season, there is one player who makes a connection with both clubs – Paul Gascoigne. The player is loved by supporters of both clubs and his feats will never be forgotten by supporters at White Hart Lane or the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Tottenham invited Gascoigne to the first Europa League match at White Hart Lane in September but he chose not to attend for personal reasons. At the time, however, he did indicate that he might be present for the second match in Rome.
It was confirmed earlier this week on Twitter that Gascoigne would be at the match in Rome this evening.
Lazio’s general manager, Maurizio Manzini, invited Gascoigne to the match and admitted on Twitter that it had been hard work to get it arranged but it was well worth it as he was such a favourite with the supporters and had an affinity with the club.
Paul Gascoigne joined Spurs from Newcastle United in 1988 and became a cult hero for his footballing skills, his goals, his antics and for the way he almost single-handedly won the FA Cup for Tottenham in 1991. In a traumatic season for the club which saw them on the verge of going out of business, Gascoigne inspired the team on the road to Wembley with six goals including the never to be forgotten strike against Arsenal in the semi-final win.
In the background, Tottenham had been arranging a rescue plan for the club, part of which included the sale of Gascoigne to Lazio for £8.5 million. The FA Cup Final against Nottingham Forest was Gascoigne’s last game for the club but so hyped up was he that he was injured and carried off on a stretcher en-route to hospital. Spurs won the Cup but Gascoigne’s injury put the transfer in jeopardy as he was going to be out of action for some considerable period of time, having ruptured the cruciate ligaments in his right knee. He missed all of season 1991-92 as his recovery took a year and the deal wasn’t completed until May, 1992 for a reduced of £5-5 million. Gascoigne had made 112 League and Cup appearances for Spurs, scoring 33 goals but he had left many memories in his short time with the club.
Lazio had been attracted to Gascoigne from the time of his exploits in the World Cup in Italy in 1990 which brought Gazzamania to football grounds around England. He was to spent three seasons in Italy but made only 47 appearances, scoring 6 goals. His form was inconsistent and he was faced with numerous injury setbacks. He made his mark with the fans, though, by scoring an 89th minute equaliser in his first Rome derby against Roma. The first two seasons had gone quite well but in April, 1994 he broke his leg and in the next year made only a further four appearances for Lazio. He joined Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 1995, his Italian expedition coming to an end.
Two famous clubs, one in England and one in Italy connected forever by one player, Paul Gascoigne.
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