Paul Merson described how Glenn Hoddle’s hotel room was “shattered to pieces” after the former England manager told Paul Gascoigne that he was not going to the 1998 World Cup.
Merson was one of those chosen in place of Gascoigne as England pulled out of the tournament in France in the final stage of 16 against Argentina on penalties.
Twenty-two years ago today, Hoddle spoke to each player at their La Manga training camp in Spain to let them know if they had been on the team.
Paul Merson was speaking at the Sky Sports Football Show when he explained what happened when Paul Gascoigne was not selected for the 1998 World Cup
Merson (left) says that the hotel room of Glenn Hoddle, then manager of England, was shattered to pieces after telling Gascoigne (right) that he was not going to the World Cup
Tottenham Hoddle legend had to downsize from 28 to 22 and Merson, speaking at the Sky Sports Football Show, explained what had happened.
“At first, I really felt a bit guilty. When he was chosen, I thought I was going to replace Gazza, “said the former Arsenal midfielder.
“We were different players but I remember it very well. We had been training at La Manga for a while, and we were allowed to do whatever we wanted on Sunday.
Then, English manager Hoddle (right) spoke to each player, including Gascoigne (left) at their La Manga training camp in Spain to tell them if they had been on the team.
Gascoigne (left) indicates that he is chatting with coach Hoddle before a friendly match in May 1998
“Me, Dion and a few others went to play boules, Gazza went to play golf and he had a few too many.
“Then we had to go upstairs to talk to Glenn. Everyone was sitting around the pool.
“I remember riding after Gazza, I didn’t know if I would go. When I went there, Glenn was white, it looked like he had seen a ghost.
“The hotel room was broken in pieces, there were chairs everywhere, lights everywhere.
England have been eliminated from the 1998 World Cup in the last 16 stages after losing to Argentina
“I think he just chose me, so I didn’t go crazy. He was trembling. Gazza was the greatest English player I have ever played with.
“I understood a little where Glenn came from, when you leave for the World Cup, you are in a hotel, it can take up to a month if you are well, and I don’t know if he would trust Gazza not to go bend one of these days.
“This is how I saw it, but it was a lot of bottles of Glenn because Gazza was the best player in a million miles. It couldn’t be for football reasons, the man was too good.
Gascoigne has struggled with alcohol throughout his life and is believed to have played a role in why he was not selected for the tournament.
David Beckham was kicked out as England were eliminated on penalties
There were also signs that Gascoigne was going to be kicked out of the World Cup team earlier that year when Hoddle left the Rangers midfielder out of a World Cup warm-up against Switzerland in March.
Merson was called back for this game and ended up winning a spot on the World Cup team this summer.
Gascoigne joined Merson in Middlesbrough in 1998.