GAZZA is an unﬂinching portrait of the ultimate tragic hero, whose love for the riches and limelight of fame proved to be his downfall. An unmissable documentary for any football fan, featuring interviews from friends, family, and former teammates and coaches including Alan Shearer, Bryan Robson, Paul Ince, Ian Wright and Terry Venables.
This ‘definitive true story’, traces Gazza’s past giving a flavour of his meteoric rise to footballing stardom from his humble roots in Newcastle making his 1st team debut at 17 years old, to breaking British football transfer history signing for Tottenham and then becoming the world’s richest player signing for Lazio. It follows all the well known major landmarks and turning points during his football career like Italia ’90, Spurs’ F.A. Cup victory, the Euro ’96 campaign and his final exclusion from the ’98 World Cup squad. What’s different about this documentary is that it zooms in on his off field distractions, looking at his moneymaking celebrity ambitions and the subsequent media frenzy he both courted and was a victim of that would have a major bearing on his career, alongside his battles with alcoholism, eating disorders and mental health.
A documentary made by acclaimed sports doc makers director Sampson Collins, an established sports journalist and maker of cricket corruption doc ‘Death of a Gentleman’, alongside producer Vaughan Swell who produced and directed ‘Pistorius’ about the self titled Paralympian and convicted murderer. This documentary uses only archive footage assembling together Gazza’s story using the clips and interviews from a range of football professionals, sports pundits and family that are uncannily prophetic but most notably here is the childhood tragedy that no doubt had a major impact on his mental health and also there is a mini serialisation of the tabloid media at that time. In particular, it was the Sun and the Mirror, who, through some surprising personnel, would forge a revelatory partnership with Gazza and his then wife Sheryl Gascoigne that became devastatingly toxic. As Gazza’s life unravels in the glare of the media spotlight he is centre stage during the celebrity lad culture of the 90s, something he epitomised with his outlandish style of play, drinking antics and practical jokes, but would ultimately lead to his self combustion.
There is no doubting Gazza’s place in football history, a unique player who finally broke the mould of English playmakers to shine on the world’s biggest footballing stage. Greater than all the hyperbole, sadly both on and off the field, this documentary pieces together the post match analysis with surgical precision (of which there is some uncomfortable viewing) in this ultimate case study on the pitfalls of becoming a world class football player living in the public eye.
Available on the BBC iPlayer and digital download from 2nd May and available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray from 9th May.
Director: Sam Collins
Genre: Documentary, Sport
Run time: 1hr 19min