‘Don’t ever trust Paul Gascoigne to be your translator’, was the warning from Ally McCoist as he shared another brilliant story about his former Rangers team-mate on talkSPORT.
Well, he should have told that to Walter Smith before the legendary boss asked Gazza to relay his orders to Gennaro Gattuso back in a training session while the trio were at the Glasgow club.
Gattuso, just appointed as the new manager of Napoli following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, spent one season at Ibrox, arriving in July 1997 and leaving the following October when Smith left the club.
The tenacious midfielder loved getting stuck in during training as much as he did during an actual match, but this worried Smith on one occasion – with an Old Firm derby coming up that weekend.
Smith asked Gazza, who could speak a rusty version of Italian after his spell at Napoli, to tell Gattuso to calm down… but, as you can probably guess, he did not do that.
In fact, he did the opposite.
As explained by McCoist on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast: “Ah Gattuso – a more competitive footballer I don’t think I ever played with. He was unbelievable. As you would image and hope, he trained as he played!
“So this is a Tuesday or a Wednesday and we’ve got the Old Firm game coming up at the weekend.
“And Gattuso is running around scything people – a real terrier type.
“I don’t have to tell you that Walter’s going off his head! He says: ‘We’ve got a game at the weekend, we’re playing Celtic! We need to watch some of these tackles!’
“So he says to Gascoigne: ‘Hey, Gazza! You speak a bit of Italian? Tell Gattuso to calm down, there’s a game at the weekend’.
“Wrong man. I mean, Walter should have known better. It was naivety at best on Walter’s part!
“So what does Gascoigne do in broken Italian?
“He tells Gattuso: ‘the manager wants more off you. If you want to play at the weekend you need to show a level of commitment in training’.
“Two minutes later, the ball gets played up to me and I’m wearing six studs down my chest where he tackles me!”