at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – England’s players have offered to help Paul Gascoigne in his battle against alcoholism as he prepares to fly to America for treatment over his addiction.
Skipper Steven Gerrard, who is on the England players’ committee, made the gesture during a meeting with FA officials on Tuesday.
Gascoigne made 57 appearances for his country and is widely regarded as one of the most talented players of his generation.
England manager Roy Hodgson, preparing for tonight’s prestige friendly against Brazil at Wembley, said: “Steven has gone to the FA and told them the players would like to contribute. Many of them looked up to him as the star player of the day and I can only back that up.
“Perhaps Paul’s problems are nothing to do with his career. I just hope he realises he is so well loved and respected in football.
“A lot of us are sad to see him fighting to get his life back to where he wants to be.”
Gascoigne, 45, will be admitted to a clinic in the United States after fears grew about his health as he battles addiction.
Hodgson went on to warn his players about the pitfalls of becoming a top player as they prepare to take on Brazil.
Hodgson said it is too easy for modern-day stars to get carried away with the trappings of success.
Ashley Cole will make his 100th appearance for England this evening while Gerrard will move on to 101 against Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side.
Hodgson said: “To win 100 caps like Steven or Ashley Cole for a country like England, where the pressure is huge, takes innate talent, humility and modesty.
“Along the way people will encourage you to become big-headed, with people telling you you’re world class when you’ve only played three or four games. There are moments when people will say you’re hopeless and shouldn’t have been considered in the first place.
“That mental strength is probably the hardest thing for us as coaches to deal with. It’s a rollercoaster ride.
“Nobody would question Bobby Moore now, but I bet there were times when people questioned him.”
Gerrard and Cole will both start on Wednesday as England bid to get 2013 off to a good start.
Hodgson will also take Manchester United’s Champions League commitments against Real Madrid next Wednesday into consideration when he names his six substitutes. United have Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck in the squad, and Hodgson will restrict their playing time.
He said: “I’m aware that Manchester United are playing an important Champions League game. I haven’t spoken to Sir Alex but I don’t need to. I was a club manager and there are a lot of matches being played.
“I have to make sure we have full access to the players for the qualifying games.
“We want to win (on Wednesday), play well and keep progressing but I don’t want to do that at the expense of players missing important Champions Leauge games and then managers being reluctant to release their players.” – Daily Mail