Football - Holloway SOS for troubled stars

Football must unite to prevent players following former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne into a downward spiral, according to Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway.

PA Sport
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Paul Gascoigne claims to have lost thousands after his bank account was hacked (PA Sport)

Gascoigne's 20-year battle against alcohol addiction was the subject of a moving television documentary this week.

Holloway, who managed Clarke Carlisle at QPR when, in 2003, the defender faced up to his own alcohol problem, believes the game's authorities must act to guide players through all the off-field problems they can face within the modern game.

"It is the pressures of this world and being in the limelight. It is learning to deal with that. I don't know if anyone saw the programme on Gazza the other night, but I was in floods of tears myself," said Holloway.

"I don't blame him for that. It is just awful.

"He can't go anywhere, can't do anything, doesn't know where he is, he doesn't know who he is. We all love him to bits, don't we? It is like George Best all over again.

"I think us football people have a duty to make sure our young lads don't get like that. It is heartbreaking to see him like that. We all wish him well.

"That is a problem, not the score in a football game.

"Let the football family get hold of someone like that and make sure we help as much as we can."

Carlisle, having confronted his problems, was appointed chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association in November 2010.

Holloway hopes the football community can help many others.

He said: "Surely we have got to put things in place to not let those sorts of things happen and help people as they are going through it?

"Football has a duty to be like that, particularly with the limelight everybody gets now, the coverage of it.

"Football is so popular, it has become a monster.

"We have to help them learn how to deal with all of this."

Holloway helped set Carlisle on the road towards recovery at the Sporting Chance clinic and would welcome such direct intervention across the board.

"I just don't know if there is enough support there to help as their learning," Holloway said.

"I think it is the clubs. Manchester United under Sir Alex (Ferguson) were fantastic at it.

"He checked everybody. If you read his books he drove round their houses and kicked doors in and made sure they behaved themselves.

"I am just talking about trying to get things right with the support network for these players.

"I watched Clarke Carlisle a few weeks ago in that wonderful programme, where he opened up about his problems.

"Everybody thinks 'they are spoilt', but it is not an easy life.

"Let's try to put things in place, with all this money in the game, to make sure we can help the people who go through these things."

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