The former Wimbledon footballer turned Hollywood actor talks about ex-Newcastle United and England star Gazza and THAT iconic nuts picture
Football hardman Vinnie Jones has opened up about ex-Newcastle United star Gazza’s battle with the booze.
The pair had a long-running battle on the pitch during their playing days, with Vinnie famously grabbing his opponent’s testes when Wimbledon played the Magpies in 1988.
But Vinnie, 50, has revealed he is hurt by Gazza’s plight through alcohol addiction - and hopes he remains on the straight and narrow after several relapses.
The former footballer turned Hollywood actor said: “I love Gazza to bits and it still upsets me to see the pictures of him off the pitch from recent times.
“He was joy to play against, and without doubt one of the greatest of all time.
“The Geordies still idolise him, and have lived much of his off the field pain with him.
“I only hope the future holds brighter days ahead for him, he deserves some happiness in his life.”
Vinnie - part of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang - also spoke of his sadness at the current state of football in the North East, stating Newcastle and Sunderland fans deserve better.
“It’s a real hotbed for the game and when I see the results come in to my home over in LA it saddens me to see both in such a struggle at the moment,” he said.
“The fans of both teams deserve so much better. They have always turned out in their numbers despite having no real prizes for long periods.”
The Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels movie star was speaking ahead of a visit to South Tyneside next month for a black tie dinner.
Vinnie said: “I cant wait to be back in the North East. Over the years I shared some great times with the fans at St James’ Park and the old Roker Park.
“The fans of Newcastle and Sunderland would always single me out when I was playing for Wimbledon, Chelsea or Leeds United for some fun whenever I played at these grounds.
“But it was always great crack and I loved my time playing against those two in the North East. The supporters always made it really special.”
Vinnie appeared in over 400 games during 15-year career. During that time he was sent off 12 times and holds the record for the quickest league booking - just three seconds.