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The Modern Reincarnations of Paul Gascoigne (Part 1)

Paul Gascoigne

His name is Paul Gascoigne – one of England’s most naturally gifted footballers. And in a nation which homed workhorses suited to the physical game, our treasured ‘Gazza’ broke the mould …

Paul Gascoigne was blessed with great technical ability, starting for Newcastle United at 16. He won the PFA Young Player of the Year award at 20 before moving to Tottenham Hotspur, continuing to impress as the years tolled by. He reached his zenith at the World Cup, Italia 90, where he reversed the direction of English football.

As mentioned in a delightful book which you can read HERE, The bleak 1980s were rife with hooliganism, stadium disasters, European bans and poor football – which largely ended with England’s campaign at Italia 90. This tournament increased popularity of the sport back home as they reached the semi-finals, their best achievement since their 1966 triumph. England entertained, shifting away from long ball play to technical and creative football. Gazza was the star. His engrossing performances proved that England was capable of technical quality instead of being stereotypical clobbers.

Ever since, England has waited for the next player to bring such enjoyment and success to the national side again. And now we have four candidates who match his traits. These are the modern reincarnations of Paul Gascoigne …

The first electorate is Jack Grealish. Jack came to prominence from the 2019/20 campaign, producing the second most chances in the Premier League and achieving 13 goal contributions. What stands out is the joy of his play. Similarly to Gascoigne, his comfortability on the ball is eye-catching, taking on players and creating opportunities whenever he deems fit. It seems as though their shares ‘boyish‘ traits translate well onto chance creation …

Early in the 2020/21 campaign Grealish hit top form, earning his first two starts for England against Wales and Ireland. He produced confident performances, grabbing two assists. The next game would determine if Grealish could compete against a top nation, Belgium. A 2-0 loss, many fans didn’t feel defeated. Decades of poor performances fuelled by lack of creativity, England demonstrated the quality of a leading footballing nation, and Grealish was the star. He was thoroughly entertaining, creating opportunities and an outrageous flick past Meunier only emphasises the point.

A technically gifted English player performing with enjoyment is truly reminiscent of Gascoigne. He himself has humbly stated the comparison isn’t fair as he hasn’t performed at a major tournament as Gascoigne had. But with the Euros and World Cup approaching, we shall see if Jack dazzles on the highest stage as Paul did.

Another ‘second coming’ of Paul Gascoigne is … Phil Foden. Described by Guardiola as ‘the most talented player’ he has ever coached, the Stockport boy debuted for Manchester City at 17 and was slowly eased into the starting eleven. The departure of David Silva, would offer the platform for Phil Foden to shine in the 2020/21 season. And thus far he has performed excellently, with 17 goal contributions to date – including a wonderful showing on a minor international stage which pricked the ears of even the most sullen of England followers.

Indeed, the fixture ‘England vs Iceland’ evokes dark memories of the disastrous Euro 2016 campaign (honestly, the least said about that tragic time, the better!). Four years later they would clash in the newly-established UEFA Nation’s league. Needless to say, Foden would be England’s leading light in this two-tone outing.

An early assist followed by two goals, England triumphed 4-0. Not only was his performance confident but his final touches produced a jaw dropping moment. He seemingly Cruyff-turned an opponent from an aerial pass before dropping a shoulder, using a la croqueta between two players and attempting a backheel pass. It was a moment of brilliance that even the fabled Paul Gascoigne would’ve been proud of.

The dark year of 2020 at least shimmered a glint of hope for England’s future. Just as Gascoigne had, Foden and Grealish have been effective at club level but showed courage to maximise their creative ability for the national side. Twenty three years after Gazza’s last England game, Phil and Jack could be his successors.

Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon via our ‘Latest‘ section …

What do you think about our choices for the modern reincarnations of Paul Gascoigne? Let us know in the comments below!

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