Frank Lampard has spoken of his admiration for Paul Gascoigne, after the England legend was admitted to a rehab clinic in America.
The former Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio and Newcastle United idol was never far away from the spotlight as a player, helping guide his country on a magical run to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup during a particular highlight.
However, his off-field problems have never fully gone away since retirement, with ‘Gazza’ sectioned under the mental health act five years ago.
Such issues don't take away from the man that Lampard knew and loved as a young professional though, with the Chelsea midfielder admitting he was in awe of the Geordie during their first experience together at the European Championships in 1996.
"Whatever anyone says about Paul Gascoigne, he was my hero, and he will always be," said Lampard, according to ITV.
"I was lucky enough to be involved in Euro '96 with him as a kid. He took me under his wing, and I was completely in awe of his character, how much he was joking around, and, more than that, the quality of the footballer he was."
Gascoigne’s agency, GamePlan Solutions, released a statement on Monday night after initial reports that the former Kettering Town boss had relapsed in his battle against alcohol addiction.
The statement confirmed that the 45-year-old was experiencing ‘a tough time’, but that he was ‘overwhelmed’ by the level of support received from the public.
"Alcoholic Paul Gascoigne has been experiencing a tough time of late. He has been asking for help and has willingly been admitted to a treatment centre in America,” read the statement.
"He has complex issues that are currently being dealt with by professionals. Paul has been extremely touched and overwhelmed by the generous offers of help and support over the past few days.
"He is motivated to fully understand and control his addiction problem under guidance."
Lampard, meanwhile, is set to feature for the Three Lions in a friendly against Brazil at Wembley tomorrow night (Wednesday), with the Stamford Bridge star closing on a century of caps for his country. He currently stands on 93.