Paul Gascoigne is arguably the most talented football player England has ever produced. Unfortunately he is also blessed with a formidable absence of common sense. I will concentrate more on his footballing achievements here.
Paul started his career at Newcastle United, before signing for Tottenham Hotspurs in 1988, aged 21. His career peaked early, his performance in the 1990 World Cup set the tournament alight and his tears at getting booked in the semi final (not, as the gazelle mentions, missing a penalty) made him a national hero. This performance was echoed the next season for Spurs where he scored in every round of the FA cup from the 3rd round to the semi final, including a fantastic 35 yeard free kick against arch rivals Arsenal. However, in the final against Nottingham Forest, he tore his cruciate ligament in a rash challenge, putting him out of action for over a year and threatening his record £5 Million transfer to Lazio.
In Italy he continued to make headlines both on and off the pitch, but after two seasons at Lazio where he became a favorite of the fans, he again damaged his cruciate ligament, and was transfered to Glasgow Rangers in 1995.
If his skills set him apart from the majority of the players in the Italian league, he was in a class of his own in Scotland. I personally saw him play against Aberdeen FC on two occaisions and, for want of a better expression, he took the piss out of the opposition every time.
His career reached a high not seen since 1990 when in 1996 he inspired the England team to reach the semi finals of the European Championships, in front of a home crowd - scoring goal of the tournament against Scotland in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley in the process.
Since that peak, his career has again taken a downward turn, being passed over for England's 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship sides. This season has seen something of a resurgance in the now 35 year old, he looks fitter than ever, and, though I know it is unlikely I cannot think of anyone I would rather see on the England bench when we are 1-1 with Argentina with 20 minutes to go.