Paul Gascoigne was two days away from his 23rd birthday when he climbed on the plane to Italy for the 1990 World Cup that would make him a household name.
Gascoigne had not started a competitive international ahead of the tournament but England manager Bobby Robson played him in all three group matches and he provided an assist for Mark Wright’s winner against Egypt.
He had a hand in England’s knockout round extra-time winner against Belgium, chipping a freekick towards David Platt, who conjured up a memorable volley.
Gascoigne was also in the thick of the action the quarter-final against Cameroon, giving away a penalty and then providing the through ball that led to Gary Lineker’s match-clinching second penalty as England came from 2-1 down to win 3-2.
But it was England’s semi-final defeat against Germany that took Gascoigne’s fame to a new level. When he picked up a booking for a foul on Thomas Berthold and realised he would miss the final, if England made it, the tears began to flow, with Lineker signalling to the bench to make them aware.
England eventually went out on penalties and ‘Gazza’s tears’ were a major talking point afterwards, earning him sympathy from the British public and a regular slot on Spitting Image where a Gazza puppet sobbed uncontrollably.
Tapping in to the post-World Cup ‘Gazzamania’, the England midfielder hooked up with Lindisfarne to release ‘Fog on the Tyne’ which reached number two in the UK top 40 and earned him a gold disc.