Troubled’ Gazza is back on the ball, says pal

PUBLISHED: 12:11 19 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:21 25 August 2010

GAZZA:Playing for England.

GAZZA:Playing for England.

A CLOSE friend of booze-plagued football legend Paul Gascoigne has revealed the star hopes to make a return to football within a year.

A CLOSE friend of booze-plagued football legend Paul Gascoigne has revealed the star hopes to make a return to football within a year.

Graham Parsons, from Bexley Village, spoke to the former England international when he left the Sporting Chance Clinic in Hampshire this month after a three-month period of recuperation.

Although Gazza, 41, was sectioned three times under the Mental Health Act last year for erratic behaviour while drinking, Mr Parsons is confident he is back on track.

The manager of Swanley-based Defence Services Ltd said: "He's doing very well actually. We speak regularly - we're close friends and we talk quite a lot. I'll do anything I can to help him to recover. But he's doing extremely well and he's feeling very positive about things.

"He wants to get back into football within the next eight to 12 months and I am confident he will be back in football in one way or another."

The 42-year-old weapons expert helped Paul Gascoigne with weapons training in February last year in preparation for the sci-fi film, Final Run, that he was supposed to be filming last summer. Kentish Times Newspapers were given access to the training at a secret location near West Kingsdown.

But filming has since been postponed until the footballer, who is widely regarded as one of the most gifted players of his generation, has made a full recovery.

His trusted friend Mr Parsons said: "The film is not happening at the moment - what's more important than the film is that he makes a total recovery. When he's feeling better who knows what he'll do. But it's important that he doesn't feel pressured into anything."

Gazza has suffered from bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism intermittently for many years.

He was first sectioned in February last year after he reportedly threatened to harm himself and has been sectioned and released again several times since.

Mr Parsons added: "He just needs help, love and support from people that care for him at the moment. He can do whatever he wants to in his life, if he just stays positive. What he would really like to do is get employed by the FA as a football coach - he's got an incredible talent, and it's his passion. It's really important that he does something he enjoys, it will help him to stay on track."

SJB Imperial Films were unable to confirm whether Gazza was still due to appear in the film as the Dartford and Swanley Times went to press.

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