Paul Gascoigne's Top Five Career Highlights

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterFebruary 4, 2013

Paul Gascoigne's Top Five Career Highlights

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    Paul Gascoigne remains one of the greatest players to pull on an England shirt, but is now facing a very different kind of battle, as BBC Sport reported at the weekend.

    The 45-year-old was the icon of England's run to the World Cup semifinals at Italia '90 and etched his name on the hearts of millions for his reaction to the booking which would have seen him miss out on the final.

    The former Newcastle, Lazio and Tottenham midfielder was forever the joker among teammates, and his legacy to the game was always playing with a smile on his face.

    Here we look back at some of the reasons why Gazza became the face of English football 20 years ago.

Italia '90

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    Gascoigne had burst on to the international scene in 1989 with his goal in the World Cup-qualifying win over Albania, after coming on as a substitute at Wembley.

    The midfielder had made his debut in 1988, but he was timing his run to the 1990 World Cup finals with precision.

    The then-Tottenham man played a starring role when he made his first appearance in the finals against Holland, as England earned a draw after a disappointing opening game against the Republic of Ireland.

    Gascoigne was the driving force as England then went on to defeat Belgium and Cameroon before lining up against West Germany in the last four.

    However, when the midfielder was booked for a rash challenge and realised he would miss a possible World Cup final, his tears flowed, providing an iconic image.

FA Cup Semifinal 1991

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    Gascoigne was part of the Tottenham team which would line up against North London rivals Arsenal in the 1991 FA Cup semifinal.

    Spurs were considered outsiders against the Gunners, who won the league title in the same season, but the pundits did not take into account the irrepressible midfielder.

    A free kick awarded 30 yards from goal appeared to offer little threat of a direct hit, but Gascoigne promptly strode up and smashed it beyond Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman to help Tottenham reach the final against Nottingham Forest.

Joining Lazio in 1992

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    Gascoigne had been set to join Lazio in the summer of 1991 before suffering a serious knee injury in the FA Cup final win over Nottingham Forest.

    However, he eventually made his debut for the Serie A club in September 1992 and was almost single-handedly responsible for television coverage of the Italian top flight in the United Kingdom.

    Eager to jump on Gascoigne's charismatic career, Channel 4 began screening a live Italian match every Sunday afternoon as Gazza prepared to take his bow in the country.

    Gascoigne produced goals like this one to ensure he remained a part of Lazio folklore.

Goal vs. Scotland at Euro '96

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    Gascoigne and some of his England teammates had come in for fierce criticism ahead of Euro '96 on home soil due to their behaviour after a friendly match in Hong Kong, as The Independent reported.

    England had disappointed in their opening game of Euro '96 with a draw against Switzerland at Wembley, and Scotland were looking to cause an upset to their old rivals.

    But, with 12 minutes left and England leading 1-0, Gascoigne flicked the ball over Scotland defender Colin Hendry before rifling it past goalkeeper Andy Goram to complete England's 2-0 win.

    The goal celebration was a direct aim at his critics as he recreated the "dentist chair" incident with Alan Shearer and Jamie Redknapp.

Helping Glasgow Rangers to Ninth Successive Title in 1997

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    Gascoigne joined Glasgow Rangers in July 1995 with his eyes set on helping Ibrox manager Walter Smith equal Celtic's Jock Stein's long-standing record of nine league titles in a row.

    Gazza and his team comfortably made it to eight championships in 1996, before clinching the elusive nine-in-a-row the following year with a victory at Dundee United.

    Gascoigne also scored twice in the League Cup final during the 1996-1997 campaign, as Rangers defeated Hearts 4-3 at Celtic Park.