A wasted talent? Troubled genius? Greatest England player of his – and many other – generations? The reason you got into football? All of the above?
Few footballers of the past 30 years have captured the imagination quite like Paul Gascoigne.
From Mars-bar loving maverick at Newcastle to Roman playboy via World Cup brilliance, Gazza really had it all. And did most of it.
Could he have been managed better? Should he have done more with his career? Was he the best player England has produced since, well, you name a date?
All valid questions and just some that will be debated during Gazza Day on BBC Sport on Saturday, which coincides with the start of our Euros Rewind programming throughout June, kicking off with a full rerun of England’s game against Scotland at Euro 96.
Here are 10 of what could have been a huge list of his most iconic moments – both good and bad. You can rank them in order at the bottom of the page.
We’ll start with the earliest moment on our list – a truly iconic photo that first helped make a young Gascoigne a household name. Hard man Vinnie Jones of Wimbledon had been told to man-mark Gascoigne everywhere he went, such was the then 20-year-old’s influence on the Newcastle side. Jones went the extra mile and the picture became hugely famous.
If you want an illustration of just how much football changed in the early 1990s – partially fuelled by Gascoigne – there were just 21,000 fans inside Wembley for this friendly as Bobby Robson finalised his World Cup squad. Gazza was given just his second start for the Three Lions and secured a spot on the plane with a dominant performance, capped with a fine late goal, surging into the area, left foot this time, laced into the roof of the net.
England had been steady if not superb at the 1990 World Cup but made their way through to the last four with Gazza providing key assists against Belgium and Cameroon. His powerful displays in midfield were key for Bobby Robson’s side but it was a moment of dismay which really made him the nation’s favourite.
Already booked earlier in the tournament, Gascoigne lunged in on Thomas Berthold in the semi-final and was shown a yellow card which would rule him out of the final, should England progress. Tears flowed, Gary Lineker told the bench to have a word, England fans as one were gutted.