‘The hotel room was smashed to pieces, chairs, lights everywhere…’: Paul Merson reveals how Gazza blew up and left Glenn Hoddle ‘white as a ghost’ after England boss axed midfielder from World Cup squad… 22 years ago today
- Paul Merson has revealed what happened when Paul Gascoigne wasn’t picked for the final England squad for France 98
- Glen Hoddle’s hotel room was smashed to pieces after explaining his decision
- The England manager had to cut his 28-man squad down to 22
- England went on to crash out of the World Cup at the last-16 stage
Paul Merson has described how Glenn Hoddle’s hotel room was ‘smashed to pieces’ after the former England manager told Paul Gascoigne he was not going to the 1998 World Cup.
Merson was one of those chosen instead of Gascoigne as England went on to crash out of the tournament in France at the last-16 stage to Argentina on penalties.
It was 22 years ago today that Hoddle spoke to each player at their La Manga training camp in Spain to tell them if they had made the squad.
Paul Merson was speaking on the Sky Sports Football Show when he explained what happened when Paul Gascoigne was not selected for the 1998 World Cup
Merson (left) says then-England manager Glenn Hoddle’s hotel room was smashed to pieces after he told Gascoigne (right) that he was not going to the World Cup
Tottenham legend Hoddle had to cut his 28-man squad down to 22 and Merson, speaking on Sky Sports’ Football Show, explained what happened.
‘At first I felt a bit guilty really. When it got picked, I thought I went instead of Gazza,’ the former Arsenal midfielder said.
‘We were different players but I remember it really well. We had been training for a while in La Manga, and we were allow to do what we wanted on the Sunday.
Then England manager Hoddle (right) spoke to each player including Gascoigne (left) at their La Manga training camp in Spain to tell them if they had made the squad
Gascoigne (left) points as he chats with coach Hoddle prior to a friendly in May 1998
‘Me, Dion and a couple of the others went and played bowls, Gazza went and played golf and he had a few too many.
‘Then we had to go upstairs to talk to Glenn. Everybody was sitting round the swimming pool.
‘I remember going up after Gazza, I didn’t know whether I would go. When I went in there, Glenn was white, it looked like he he had seen a ghost.
‘The hotel room was smashed to pieces, there were chairs everywhere, lights everywhere.
England were knocked out of the 1998 World Cup at the last 16 stage after losing to Argentina
‘I think he just picked me so I didn’t go mad. He was shaking. Gazza was the greatest English player I played with.
‘I did understand a little bit where Glenn was coming from, when you go away to the World Cup, you’re in a hotel, it could be up to a month if you do well, and I don’t know if he would trust Gazza not to go and have a bender on one of those days.
‘That was the way I looked at it but it was a lot of bottle from Glenn because Gazza was the best player by a million miles. It couldn’t be for football reasons, the man was too good.’
Gascoigne has struggled with alcohol throughout his life and it is believed to have played a part in why he was not selected for the tournament.
David Beckham was sent off in the match as England were knocked out on penalties
There were also signs that Gascoigne was going to be left out of the World Cup squad earlier that year when Hoddle left the Rangers midfielder out of a World Cup warm-up match against Switzerland in March.
Merson was recalled for that game and ended up earning himself a place in the World Cup squad in the summer.
Gascoigne joined Merson at Middlesbrough in 1998.
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