This summer it will be twenty years since England football fans went crazy. It was Euro ’96. The nation got excited by England hosting the football tournament and supporters gathered in their homes, in pubs and bars and in front of specially erected big screens in towns and cities up and down the country.
Euro ’96 was a roller coast ride for England fans, players and manager Terry Venables.
Before the tournament had even begun there was controversy. What were Paul Gascoigne and his fellow players doing pouring alcohol down their throats while sat in a dentist’s chair located in a Hong Kong restaurant? The tabloids led their front pages with photographs of the players celebrating Gazza’s birthday wearing little – but drinking plenty. How could this be happening so close to the beginning of such an important tournament?
A Scotsman was in that Hong Kong bar when the dentist’s chair incident took place. Just twenty days later he would be at Wembley watching his Scotland play England in a match remembered for a wonder goal by Gazza.
His name is Lee Bullen. He is now the assistant coach at Sheffield Wednesday. On May 26th 1996 he was playing for a Hong Kong eleven against England. England won the friendly by the only goal of the game. On June 8th England kicked off Euro ’96 against Switzerland. The result was a 1-1 draw.
Who better then to comment on that night of drinking in Hong Kong and on the enigma that is Paul Gascoigne?
Lee Bullen knows a special player when he sees one. And as he told me in this interview recorded late in 2013, Gazza was a bit special.