Paul Gascoigne, the star England footballer whose life has been blighted by addiction to alcohol ever since he left the game, was reported late last night to be in intensive care after collapsing soon after arriving at an Arizona rehabilitation centre.

There were conflicting accounts of his condition. The Sun on Sunday said he was “close to death” after suffering what the paper described as a “catastrophic reaction to alcohol withdrawal”. It quoted an unnamed source saying that “his vital organs are shutting down”. The Daily Star Sunday said that while Gascoigne was still in intensive care, his life was no longer in imminent danger.

Before his decline, Gascoigne was one of the most gifted and engaging, although occasionally wild, players of recent generations; capable of moments of sublime talent, yet also others of immature silliness. The 45-year-old flew to Arizona after friends, including DJ Chris Evans and former England team-mate Gary Lineker, offered to fund his treatment.

Concerns had been raised after a worrying public appearance at an event in Northampton, with people claiming he was barely coherent as he offered anecdotes from his playing days.

Gascoigne has suffered from a history of mental health problems. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act five years ago. – The Independent on Sunday