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The axe could tip him over the edge.

GAZZA will never escape from the tag of the man who was dumped from the 1998 World Cup.

And it could plunge him even further into the spiral of erratic behaviour and personal crises that have marred his once brilliant career.

While the soccer world still reels from the bombshell news that emerged last night, the question of what life holds for him now is already rearing its head.

His reaction to most of the troubles in his life has been to hit the booze, hit the fags or hit his wife. Then comes new beginnings, attempts to go straight which have always ended in controversial failure.

His Middlesbrough boss, Bryan Robson, said the other day that Gazza is a man who needs release from the almighty strains his unique talent and personality have heaped upon him.

But I hope that Glenn Hoddle's decision not to take him to France might finally hammer into his mind a realisation that it is time to finally make the most of his superb skills.

THE COCKY grin which accompanied his last chat with the Press, when he told us all that getting fit was no problem and that he had 27 days to do it, was wiped off his face last night.

I trust that the smirk also vanished from his gingernut mate Chris Evans, the pal who so obviously helped lure him away from the straight and narrow path a top class footballer must follow these days.

The truth is that Gazza ain't a bad lad. But even eight years ago at the Italian World Cup, Bobby Robson was noting accurately and so memorably that he's "as daft as a brush".

For once, you'd have to say that Gazza is entitled to a drink or two to cope with this rejection, the most shocking in the long line of setbacks that have meant he has failed to make the most of his talent.

But then must come the time to stop being as daft as a brush and to bring in a new broom.

He will return to the Premiership after a six-year absence from England's top flight with Middlesbrough.

What better way to bounce back from missing the World Cup can there be than taking the Premiership by storm later this year?

It might be a bit hard to swallow right now, Gazza, and no one will be begrudge you a few beers after this news.

But next August, it's over to you.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:La Manga, John DILLON
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 1, 1998
Next Article:Scholes gets his chance to shine.

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