Aron Winter spent three seasons with Paul Gascoigne at Lazio in the early to mid-90s, and the former Netherlands international recalls a time when Gazza forced Rowan Atkinson's most notable works on the squad.
The pair both signed for the Italian side in 1992, but their midfield partnership took a while to flourish due to the Englishman suffering some injury issues in the 1992/93 season.
Instead, it is off the field where Winter waxes lyrical about his former team-mate, despite Gazza's character leaving the Italians less than impressed.
"Paul was fantastic," Winter tells FourFourTwo. "He was a colourful type – different from others – but he remains one of the finest English footballers ever.
"In our first year at Lazio, Paul was mainly recovering from an injury, but in our second season we were together in midfield. Unfortunately, he didn’t serve out his contract due to problems with the chairman. He did the craziest things.
"Italians at that time were quite submissive: with them it was ‘Yes mister’ or ‘No mister’. Paul just did what he wanted. When we went to the stadium by bus, the Italian boys often had videos with native films or series; once, Paul took them all away and put Blackadder and Mr Bean on. The Italians were like, 'What the hell is this stuff?' I was doubled over with laughter."
Winter is now the manager of the Suriname national team, the country of his birth. He has been a coach since 2005, largely within Ajax's academy as well as an assistant manager in the first-team as well as for Greece.
The 56-year-old tells FFT he is upset to see Gascoigne's struggles over the past couple of decades, offering his full support for his former midfield partner.
"Years ago, I attempted to contact Paul again, but by then he was shielded from the outside world," Winter says. "It was very difficult for me to hear how he’s gone through life in recent years.
"I followed the stories from a distance. I wish him the best and hope that he’s doing much better now."
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