Former Italian footballer and coach Dino Zoff has expressed his greatest regret about the way the career of English footballer Paul Gascoigne unfolded.
At the age of 81, Zoff, who coached Gascoigne at Lazio in the early 1990s, witnessed the gradual decline of the talented midfielder’s career.
Zoff compared Gascoigne to a once-great artist who lost his touch, saying, “It was disheartening to see him lose his brilliance, like a painter forgetting how to create.”
“I’ve always admired creative minds and people with innovative ideas. Goalkeepers like myself don’t bring forth artistic expressions. His reckless squandering of his talent frustrated me, and I genuinely felt pity for Gazza,” Zoff explained in an interview with Rai Radio 2.
He went on to reflect, “It was heartbreaking to witness his struggles, but even during his time at Lazio, it was evident that Gascoigne would encounter significant challenges post-retirement. It was a natural progression. However, retiring at that point would have been detrimental to him, as it marked the pinnacle of his career.”
Gascoigne gained prominence in England while playing for Tottenham and Newcastle before making his way to Rome, where he spent three seasons.
“I distinctly recall an occasion when he arrived at our training camp carrying an additional 12 kilograms in weight. His physique had changed dramatically, with a protruding belly and excess weight. I couldn’t recognize him at first glance. I was genuinely dismayed upon seeing him in that state. I had to consult others to confirm his identity as Gascoigne. Unfortunately, this is the most profound regret I harbor throughout my entire career,” concluded the former Italian national team player and coach.