Gareth Southgate: The bizarre reason we gave Paul Gascoigne a fake fishing rod at Euro 96
England’s interim boss enjoyed a close-up view of the one of the most famous goals to topple the Scots.
Gazza’s piece of Wembley magic in 1996 and the subsequent ‘Dentist’s Chair’ celebration are the stuff of legend.
Southgate, fresh on the international scene, saw it all unfold and a smile still cracks his face just thinking about.
What he’d do for a piece of that footballing brilliance on Friday night, but he admits the stuff that went with English football’s last true genius can sometimes be hard to handle.
Southgate said: “In my time in football Gazza would be unique anyway, in terms of personality.
“Funny, the sort of bizarre things that would go on when Gazza was around”
England manager Gareth Southgate
“He was playing at Rangers at the time. Bryan Robson made him a little fishing rod, and he was fishing in the bath at Wembley. He was pretend fishing – because that was the only time he ever relaxed. Make of that what you will!
“One of the ways to calm him down was to send him fishing with David Seaman, but obviously on the day of the game he couldn’t go!
“So Robbo made him a little fishing rod with a line dangling from it. And there he was sat on the side of the big bath in the Wembley dressing room, just pretending to fish.
“Funny, the sort of bizarre things that would go on when Gazza was around.
“He used to go with David during the week in the afternoon just to get himself out of everybody’s hair for a couple of hours. He found that the most relaxing thing.”
It was Gazza who reeled in the Scots soon after, cheekily lobbing the ball over Colin Hendry’s head before ramming the ball home.
Then he dashed to the side of the goal, lay down and urged his team-mates to squirt the contents of a drinks bottle down his throat.
It was a daring re-enactment of the high jinks in a Far East bar when some of the players got plastered and then found themselves plastered all over the front pages.
Southgate added: “Only Gazza could remember the celebration he was going to do having scored!
“How does it even cross your mind, ‘Oh yes, got to the do the Dentist’s Chair now’.”
Southgate sensibly dodged the original high-jinks in a tequila bar on the advice of team mate Stuart Pearce.
“That night, Terry Venables had to cut the squad,” recalled Southgate.
“I had got pally with Stuart and said to him, ‘We’re having a night out with the lads’.
“He said, ‘No, in my experience of England if you go out for a drink it’s as if nobody has ever drunk before in their lives, so my advice to you is swerve it’.
“Because I’d only just got in the squad I listened. Sometimes advice like that is good!”
Southgate is no stick in the mud but says that social media and camera phones means the modern day players have to be even more careful.
He added: “Is it possible now? It would be riddled with concern that’s for sure.
“After we won with the Under-21s tournament in Toulon we had all the players and staff in the bar and we shared a couple of drinks together, we put a time on it, and they were great, acknowledged that was it, time to finish.
“It was important to celebrate, end of the season, won a trophy, you should enjoy those moments as well.
“We can’t live in a world where it’s all about work. They are moments that bond teams.
“That’s what sport should be about. It’s a difficult balance. You go out now and everyone’s got a camera-phone so it’s very difficult to be private and really enjoy yourselves. It’s nice if you can do it.”