Packet of ciggies seals Gascoigne's comeback
England football legend Paul Gascoigne is set to make an unlikely comeback with the deal sealed by a packet of cigarettes.
Despite ongoing fears over the mental and physical state of the man affectionately know as "Gazza", it seems there may be a bit of footballing life left in the 47-year-old who played 57 times for England and starred at the 1990 World Cup.
Gascoigne, who has long battled alcoholism, has signed on with Abbey, a Sunday League Division Four team in Bournemouth.
Chris Foster, the Abbey manager, is a taxi driver and made a cheeky approach to Gascoigne after driving to a shop to buy him cigarettes.
"I gave him the cigarettes and pulled out the signing-on form at the same time. He signed it there and then," Foster told the Bournemouth Daily Echo. "I was chuffed to bits and ran to the car as fast as I could. I was skipping like a 14-year-old."
The Bournemouth FA confirmed that Gascoigne has registered and could play immediately. They label the deal "a major coup" for the league. Abbey are set to open their season at home to Rentech Repairs on September 7. If Gascoigne fronts, a media circus is sure to be there.
"I've offered to pick him up," Foster said, adding Gascoigne was being given a free licence for his playing position.
"If he feels he is fit enough to play, he can play wherever he likes - at that includes in goal!
"I have said I will put a fixture sheet through his door and have offered to pick him up whenever he is willing to come. I don't know what his availability will be.
"My ambition is to get him there for every game. He might play every game or he might play one. It would be an honour to have him involved."
Gascoigne's last professional match was in 2004 for Boston United in league Two.
It seemed a sad end to a glittering but troubled career that included spells at glamour clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Everton, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United.
Now, it seems, there might be one last hurrah with Abbey.