Home / Champions League / Wazza and Gazza…Disturbing Parallel’s


Much has been written of Wayne Rooney and his saga with Manchester United in the last few weeks, most have focused on his contract, or his lack of goals, and have chalked it up to difficulties in his personal life. However, no one has attempted to go further and discuss the taboo topic of the mental health of England and the Red Devils talismanic player.

Rooney is often compared to the greatest players in football, Ronaldo, Messi, Zidane, but I can think of another former England talisman player who parallels his life, both personal and professional; Paul Gascoigne. Rarely spoken of these days, Gazza, as he is known, mostly because the tabloids are too lazy to learn to spell anything French, has led a life marker by soaring highs, and shocking lows. He was one of the greatest players of his generation, and had the potential to be one of the best ever, but was cut down by the slow progression of his own mental illness. For Gazza, football was life, he poured everything into it, and when he wasn’t playing or training he got bored or depressed and chaos ensued. For along time, everyone in the press, and probably Gazza himself, assumed it was the pressure of the popularity that was getting to him, or he needed some time off. In fact, it was the time off that was slowly killing him.

In 2004, his autobiography Gazza: My Story, written with Hunter Davies,was published along with a follow-up book Being Gazza: Tackling My Demons in 2006, also with Davies. In it, he details undergoing therapy for bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism. You see, as an obsessive compulsive, he was obsessed with soccer, and when he couldn’t play, he couldn’t cope, and as a result turned to the red lights, alcohol, and drugs. Today, he remains addicted to alcohol, and despite several tints in rehab. Most recently he appeared at the scene of the tense stand-off between the police and Britain’s most wanted man Raoul Moat. He gave several apparently drunken and barely-coherent radio interviews in which he claimed to be a friend of the fugitive and stated that he had brought him ‘a can of lager and some chicken’. Such is the sad fate of man destroyed my a pathological love of the game.

Unfortunately, Wayne Rooney’s recent meltdown mirrors Gazza’s early career, and he shows some of the same disturbing signs. Now I’m not saying Wayne Rooney will be drunkenly giving interviews to the BBC, but his obsession with is own form, and intensity on the pitch may mean that these few weeks off in Dubai are not going to be good for him. I honestly think that Rooney didn’t mean to offend the fans wearing Manchester United jersey, or care as much about the money as some have claimed. He wants to be sure he is on a team where he can play top flight football because that’s his life, and like Gazza he can’t live without it. His spat with Ferguson over not playing for two weeks, in which he responded to the questions about why he is not playing with “I don’t know,” seems to fit the picture of a man a bit off his head.

As for his personal meltdown, it seems another worrying coincidence as his dalliance with Roxanne’s of London came during a period where he wasn’t playing football, just like Gascoigne. And going for a slash against the wall of a building when your a top flight footballer seems to fit with Gazza’s story as well.

For the moment, he seems to be getting things back on track with his wife, and will be back playing soon, but I hope for his sake Fergie has a stern eye on Rooney’s mental health as well as his physical condition. If not, he has a very long way to fall.

Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com


About the author: Matthew Wall


I've played soccer since I could walk thanks to my father and love keeping up on all the latest gear and gab. I'm in my twenties, and I'm lucky enough to have found work in search marketing for a leading soccer retailer after completing my M.A. at Georgetown in 2008. My team is Liverpool, and national side is Ireland, but I've also got a passion for GAA and a number of sports. Feel free to give me a shout on Google+


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