at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Paul Gascoigne thinks he can still “get back on track” despite a worrying public appearance last week, according to Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor.
The former footballer, who has struggled with alcohol problems in the past and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2008, was filmed trembling and speaking incoherently at a charity event on Thursday.
The footage, published by The Sun newspaper, prompted Gascoigne's agent, Terry Baker, to say that his client needed immediate help and that, as an alcoholic, his life was “always in danger”.
However, Taylor said that his organisation had been in touch with Gascoigne over the weekend and received assurances that the former England star was determined to recover from his latest setback.
“He still feels he is capable of getting back on track and (that) it is a relapse he has had,” Taylor told Britain's Press Association.
“I can only say, whatever help he needs, he must come on (board) and we will help to provide it.
“I think he does need specialist care and a very strong 24-hour support system, but again, it needs him to be part of that.”
Gascoigne's former England team-mate Gary Lineker expressed concern at the weekend, writing on Twitter: “I can only hope he finds peace somehow, but fear those hopes may be forlorn.”
Taylor admits there are worrying parallels between Gascoigne's case and that of former Manchester United winger George Best, who died at the age of 59 in 2005 after a long battle with alcoholism.
However, he took issue with suggestions from ex-United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel that the PFA needed to “step up” its efforts to give Gascoigne help.
“We have tried to support him throughout all his problems with rehabilitation at various clinics, with medical help,” Taylor said.
“We go one step forward and two back at times and this is just the situation.
“If we are not careful, it is going to be akin to George Best. It is unfortunate, but we try to keep going.
“I can't think of a player who has had more support and constant help over the number of years that we have been there for Paul.
“It is quite ironic – it is nice that people like Peter Schmeichel care about him, but they don't appreciate the work we have done for him, a lot of which has to be confidential.
“If anything, I have been criticised at times for keeping faith and trying to keep going with him.”
Known to fans as 'Gazza', Gascoigne made 57 appearances for England and is considered one of the most talented players that the country has ever produced. – Sapa-AFP