In 1993, as England’s campaign to qualify for the next year’s World Cup gets underway, the pressure is very much on Paul Gascoigne to lead them there. But behind the scenes, Gazza’s life is once again falling apart amid problems in his relationship with girlfriend Sheryl and a very public betrayal by his personal assistant, who reveals his deepest, darkest secrets to the world. This is soon followed by another serious career-threatening injury. 

England fail to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. Then there are fresh tabloid revelations when the violence Sheryl has suffered at Gazza’s hands becomes public. By now, both Gazza and Sheryl are on friendly terms with two young tabloid journalists, Rebekah Wade and Piers Morgan, who are emerging as key figures at the celebrity-obsessed News of the World. Gazza and Sheryl become one of their most important storylines, matched only by the royal soap opera of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Gazza’s life increasingly occupies both the front and back pages of the tabloids – frequently for all the wrong reasons. 

Despite all the trouble, Gazza’s goal against Scotland at Euro 96 restores his national hero status, and his public renaissance continues with marriage to Sheryl just days later. However, this apparent reprieve proves temporary, as further acts of domestic violence committed by Gazza become public and his marriage crumbles. Although new England coach Glenn Hoddle keeps him in the England team, Gazza is under siege, with the press turning to increasingly amoral and illegal means to chart every part of his downfall.

Gazza – Wednesday 9pm on BBC2

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