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The Gazza Strip; FULL MONTY TURN BEGINS A WEEK IN LIFE OF WILDMAN; Saturday: He bares his bot at wedding of family friend; Tuesday: 'Flu bug' stops him training so it's off to pub.

HIGH-living footballer Paul Gascoigne did a Full Monty strip at a friend's wedding to kick off a week of fun and games that was amazing even by his standards.

Gazza dashed from London to Gateshead straight after a match for a social club-reception that ended with him tearing off his Middlesbrough team tracksuit and flashing his bum at 300 guests.

One onlooker told The Mirror: "He stripped off and got four of his pals up to do the Full Monty - it was a hell of a show."

Gascoigne went on to another party until early the next day, before briefly returning to training...going fishing...missing more training with a "flu bug"...having another long session in the pub...and finally playing another game.

All this when the eyes of the soccer world were on the 31-year-old star dropped from the World Cup and fighting to re-establish himself with Middlesbrough and hopefully win an England recall.

Club manager Bryan Robson had already read the riot act after boozy nights out in Newcastle and his performances were under fire.

A week last Saturday at Chelsea, the pounds 20,000-a-week Geordie was condemned as "trundling along like a milkfloat on a motorway" as Middlesbrough went down 2-0.

But he was off like a flash after the match - jetting to Tyneside at 6pm to a wedding celebration at the Windy Nook social club, Gateshead.

The party was for BR worker Steve Sutton and Gascoigne's close family friend Paula Hay after their marriage abroad.

Shortly before 9pm, Gazza surprised guests by arriving dressed in his team's distinctive tracksuit and trainers.

Onlookers told how he drank and joked with pals in a corner of the huge concert room. The walls carried ads for a male strip act due at the club and Gazza danced the night away. It was the third-last song of the evening, and Gazza asked DJ Craig Chambers to play the Full Monty theme. The star's two-minute routine began.

With four pals, he cast aside his tracksuit top and went bare-chested. They moved forward in a line just like Robert Carlyle and Co in the hit movie - before Gazza wiggled his bare bum to cries from the crowd.

Craig, 18, of Solid Sound Disco, told The Mirror: "He just said 'Come on lads, Full Monty' and took to the floor to the megamix from the film - Hot Chocolate's You Sexy Thing and Tom Jones' hit You Can Keep Your Hat On.

"The lads were warned beforehand about keeping it clean for kids at the do, so he just kept his tracksuit bottoms strategically positioned and walked backwards with his bum out and the lights behind him, just like in the film.

"We were walking backwards and forwards doing the Full Monty routine and then on the count of three Gazza gave the call to 'Show your bum'. It was a great laugh."

After the bash ended shortly before midnight, the star hopped into a minibus to a house nearby and partied on. One pal told The Mirror: "Gazza was the star of the do.

"He was even helping out with the record player at one stage. We all had a good drink." Hours later on Sunday, staff at one of Gascoigne's favourite haunts, the Beacon pub in Beacon Lough, Gateshead, said he was there with pals.

On Monday, Gazza made a brief appearance at the Middlesbrough training ground in Hurworth, Co Durham, before "going fishing" with best pal Jimmy "Five Bellies" Gardner.

The rest of the Boro first team were due for training on Tuesday. Gazza was not there because he was sick with a "flu virus", according to Boro boss Robson.

As his teammates slogged away, Gascoigne found the perfect tonic - hitting the pub and shooting pool with Gardner and other friends.

Locals at the Beacon told how he was holding court from about 4pm to 9.30pm, sitting in a corner of the bar signing autographs and watching football on a huge TV screen.

Children congregated outside to get a glimpse of their hero, dressed in a dark shirt and dark jeans.

Gardner emerged at around 9.15pm and checked the coast was clear before his pal left. Next day Gazza was training, only to break down in a practice match with the reserves.

He was not in tip-top form - running down blind alleys and regularly losing the ball to green-bibbed opponents.

By the second half, at 11.45am, the frustrated midfielder bent over with his hands on his knees.

Defender Gary Pallister tried rousing him, but Gazza started limping, cast-off his orange bib and trotted off to the dressing-room.

Two hours later he was driven away by Gardner in a white Peugeot 405 with another pal, after leaving his soft-top Jaguar XK8 on Tyneside.

Middlesbrough insist Gazza turned up for training on Thursday, though he did not appear to be on the practice pitch. A spokesman said he was doing "light training" as usual.

On Friday, as Gazza faced the disappointment of missing an England recall for tomorrow's match against Bulgaria, his manager Robson refused to discuss the star.

He said Gazza had a "flu virus" when he missed training and then spent hours in the pub. "We send them home when they are like that," added Robson.

According to pals, Gazza and Gardner regularly go fishing together and are seen at pubs and clubs close to Gardner's Gateshead home.

Gazza, divorced by wife Sheryl, appears to have no home base - either at the MetroCentre's Marriot Hotel - where close pal Dave Cheek died after a drinks session - or with pals.

Last Saturday, he was back to work helping Middlesbrough to a 4-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday and scoring a late goal. In the previous week, he had also managed a Full Monty, a night on the tiles, a fishing trip and a few games of pool.

On pounds 20,000-a-week, it's a tough life but someone has to do it.

HAVE you got a picture or video of Gazza doing the Full Monty? Call the Mirror News Desk on 0171 293 3831. We'll ring you straight back.
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Author:Armstrong, Jeremy
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 9, 1998
Words:1018
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