There was a time when Celtic and Rangers could compete with the biggest European clubs for the biggest names in football.
Glasgow rivals were a more attractive option than some Premier League sides, so when it was told that Paul Gascoigne, one of the game’s best midfielders, was on the verge of ending his adventure at Lazio, Rangers made their decision. .
Two years after illuminating Italia ’90 with his world-class screens for England, Gascoigne joined Lazio in 1992 for £5.5 million from Tottenham.
Manager Walter Smith had read the reports and quickly explained to their chairman David Murray that Rangers had a great opportunity to steal a march on their rivals. After all, Gazza was a man Sir Alex Ferguson was upset that he didn’t have at Man United.
“I said, ‘Look, we have an opportunity here. Then Rangers and Celtic could face each other again [with English clubs for players]. The President contacted the President of Lazio,” Smith told The Scotsman.
“It was the end of the season so I flew to Rome, Lazio people gave me their address. He stayed in the hills outside Rome. I just took a cab and got on him and went to him.
His time in Rome was hampered by injuries and could only manage 41 appearances during his three years as a Lazio player, but he was idolized by fans.
“I said ‘I’m here to sign you for the Rangers’ and he said ‘Okay’.”
However, Chelsea were also preparing for their move at a time when the club’s board was trying to improve the club’s image in Europe. The Blues hold on to Rudd Gullit and believe that Gazza will strengthen him further.
And despite the injury issues that followed his £5.5million move from Tottenham to Lazio in 1992, combined with the salary a player of his stature could earn, Blues boss Glenn Hoddle thought it was a must. is risk. If the midfielder returned to England, he was sure that Stamford Bridge would be his next stop.
Smith also believes that the player’s agent at the time wanted him to go to England.
However, Colin Hutchinson, then Chelsea’s general manager, told Chelsea’s official biography: “[Gazza] Heard what Glenn had to say about football, and it was his usual clown. He was fine, but it was always clear to us that while he was joking and being polite, it was actually settled that he went to the Rangers.
Smith traveled to Italy to personally persuade Gaza to move to Glasgow
The club beat Chelsea in 1995 by signing midfielders and they lit up Ibrox where they once again felt the love of the fans.
And he was right. Lazio received £4.3 million, and Gascoigne, a German, was greeted by thousands outside Ibrox upon his arrival in July 1995.
Overall, he scored 39 goals in 103 games during his time in Scotland, winning two league titles, the Scottish Cup and the League Cup.
But he was the hero in his fourth league game, when he scored in a 2–0 win against Celtic and finished his first season with a hat-trick against Aberdeen to claim the title.
His second goal, to beat Rangers 1-0 and lead 2-1, was a mixture of skill, strength and determination.
Plus, if he hadn’t met Allie McCoist, football fans would never have known when Gazza broke into his Rangers teammate’s house to make himself a sandwich.
He made a mark in Scotland and was set to be inducted into the League Hall of Fame in 2018, but his nomination was withdrawn due to concerns about his well-being.
Former England midfielder Steven Gerrard, who now heads Rangers, called Gazza a “hero”.
“A player I admired a lot. I bought the VHS, the CD, the shirt – all the souvenirs that came with the Gaza.
Gary Lineker, who played with Gascoigne at English level, called his former teammate “the most naturally talented technical footballer I’ve ever played with”.
And his legacy is felt in England as well.
For Euro 2020, which happened 25 years after Gaza lighted up Euro 96 with a famous goal against Scotland, Phil Foden sported a blonde haircut similar to the English legend all those years ago.
Many fans remember Gascoigne upon watching Grealish play
Jack Grealish, according to former Aston Villa teammate Robert Snodgrass, is definitely a Gaza player.
“I haven’t seen anyone like him,” he told talkSPORT during Euros.
“It’s the closest to Gascoigne I’ve seen. He takes it wherever he goes, dribbles in front of people.
Grealish now has a chance to show why Pep Guardiola was keen to take him to Manchester City in the Champions League this season following his £100million transfer.
“When I saw him on TV I said this guy controls the pace I like when he has the ball, he stops before the dribble and the opponent stops too”, said his new manager .
“It controls the pace when it gets faster and slower. Especially when I saw him when we played at Aston Villa, the physicality, the mentality.
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