Paul Gascoigne's Rangers airport getaway revealed as John Greig remembers ill-fated party with Celtic fans
Former Rangers icon Paul Gascoigne is arguably the most talked-about British football celebrity of his generation. Every one of his former team-mates and managers has a story to tell and they’ve been collected in a new book. ‘Our Gazza - The Untold Tales’ by John Richardson.
The book, by Reach Sport, is a collection of memories as told by the people who know him best including Terry Venables, Chris Waddle, Ally McCoist, Harry Redknapp and Walter Smith. Here, John Greig recalls the time Gazza partied with Celtic fans in New York.
It was impossible to remain angry with Gazza for long – even when you were detailed to act as his chauffeur.
Gazza had been given permission to take time off to recover from an injury but he was supposed to spend it relaxing away from the spotlight.
Instead, he elected to fly to the USA for the weekend to watch the St Patrick’s Day parade.
That was bad enough but much worse was to follow when the Monday morning tabloids carried front-page pictures of Gazza sitting with a bunch of Celtic fans and clearly enjoying a few drinks.
Walter went ballistic and word was sent to Gazza to catch the first available flight home.
I was dispatched to pick up him and his agent Mel Stein from Glasgow Airport and I was given clearance to drive onto the tarmac to avoid the waiting hordes of journalists who had gathered.
When Gazza and Stein emerged from the aircraft they couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about.
Stein asked, “What’s he done wrong, John?”
I replied, “The only way you could have beaten that was to lead the parade sitting astride a white elephant.”
Stein said that would be a great line for his book.(Image: Daily Record)
I well remember the day Gazza asked me to swap cars with him.
I was driving a club-sponsored Honda Accord and he had a top of the range two-seater BMW.
But he explained that he required a roomier motor because he had his close pal Jimmy ‘Five Bellies’ Gardner and a cousin visiting.
So I handed over the keys to my car.
I warned him to look after the motor but moments later I was standing at the front door of Ibrox when Gazza flashed past doing 70mph and honking the horn.
To be honest, I half-expected that sort of reaction but I was totally unprepared for what happened next.
- Morelos in opening day frame
- 5 things from Rangers training
- Rangers away kit revealed
- £17m Morelos bid from Lille
I went off to the gym for a workout and later switched on the radio to hear on the local news that the police were investigating a death threat against Gazza.
Here I was about to drive home in his car – one that you couldn’t fail to notice, complete with tinted windows and someone was threatening to shoot the owner! Needless to say I insisted on having my car back the following morning.
For all that, I admired Gazza. Alright, he had problems at times but would he have been the same player without the traumas that dogged his career? Possibly not.
He might have started worrying about the game and not become the player he was at his peak.
Perhaps Gazza didn’t get as much from his career as he should have but, for a few years at least, he was the supreme entertainer and was loved by the fans.
Our Gazza - The Untold Tales by John Richardson, published by Reach Sport, is on sale now in hardback and ebook. Order for 20% off, £15.19, here.