19 – the shirt number worn by Paul Gascoigne at the 1990 FIFA World Cup Italy™. A relative unknown before the tournament, the 23-year-old midfielder turned in a series of captivating displays to make an indelible mark on the competition and trigger a craze known as ‘Gazzamania’.
The most iconic image from the player’s career came when he began crying in his side’s semi-final against Germany that year. The teams were locked at 1-1 in the eighth minute of extra time when Gascoigne picked up the yellow card that would have ruled him out of the Final had England gone on to win. Realising the implications of the caution immediately, “Gazza” could not hold back the tears.
As it turned out, England did not make it, losing on penalties to the Germans, who would go on to beat Argentina in the showpiece match a few days later. Meanwhile, a Gascoigne-less England went down to the tournament hosts in the match for third place.
Gazza earned global adulation at Italy 1990 and received these consoling words from his coach, Bobby Robson, after picking up his untimely yellow: “Don’t worry. You’ve been one of the players of the tournament. You’ve got your whole life in front of you and this is only your first World Cup.” It was to prove his last, however, and the crowning moment of a career full of highs and lows.