Review: ‘Gazza in Italy’

by | Oct 9, 2018 13:44 | Latest

Daniel Storey’s ‘Gazza in Italy’ is the most comprehensive look at Paul Gascoigne’s three extraordinary years at Lazio. Richard Hall reviewed a must-read book for Calcio aficionados.

Daniel Storey’s ‘Gazza in Italy’ is the most comprehensive look at Paul Gascoigne’s three extraordinary years at Lazio. Richard Hall reviewed a must-read book for Calcio aficionados.

Writing about Paul Gascoigne is a very difficult task. One can’t simply immerse themselves in his glorious talent without looking at the dark and saddening part of his life and career. One cannot understand this, without being aware of what it was like in Italy back in the early 1990s and one cannot ignore the simply brilliantly funny, almost innocent and childish humour of Gascoigne.

In ‘Gazza in Italy’ Daniel Storey manages to do all of this, furnishing the reader with facts and context in an enjoyable and beautifully written book. It is a piece of work that will enable you to take an all-round view, from many perspectives, of his time in Italy.

Perhaps one of the most enthralling things about this book is that Daniel doesn’t for one moment try to press his opinion upon the reader. Instead, he leads you into asking yourself the question, before then subtly giving you information or another person’s view, that helps you come to your own conclusion.

He revels in the genius that was ‘Gazza’ and talks of those famous moments, from the Derby Della Capitale last-gasp header, to the slaloming piece of brilliance against Pescara. It shows you why Gascoigne slowly became isolated in Rome, why he trusted the company he kept and offers some reasoning for his mindset, both through injury and depression.

As you journey through the chapters, you see with context why Gazza and Lazio still have such a bond to this day and how the club and the Geordie rose at the same time. There are interesting dynamics outlined between the England international and Dino Zoff, Sergio Cragnotti and more importantly the fans. Here we get a picture of how he became a hero off the field for his ‘comedy’ as much as for his performances on it. It makes sense of why, even to this day, Gazza is still a hero to many Laziali on the Curva Nord, even more so than some of the bigger names that followed him.

‘Gazza in Italy’ is a must-read, not only for disciples of Channel 4’s Football Italia programme, but for anyone interested in Calcio and the psychology of a flawed genius. The book makes you laugh, asks questions, sees you beg Paul to make other decisions and is also tragic and upsetting when he doesn’t. 

One extra bonus with Daniel’s book is that after reading it, you can also listen to this on audiobook, where it is narrated by none other than James Richardson, which gives the experience a nostalgic feel.

Paul Gascoigne’s time in Italy has never been as well-documented as in this book. It takes you from the feverish start of ‘Gazzamania’ right through to the difficult discussion about his legacy. It will leave you if nothing else closing the cover and thinking: ‘Forza Gazza’.

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