Paul Gascoigne is in court today (19 September) for the start of his racism trial. The 49-year-old former Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers footballer pleaded not guilty in June to a charge of racial abuse after allegedly making a racist slur towards a black security guard last year.
Gascoigne, popularly known as Gazza, is accused of making the comment following his An Evening with Gazza show in Wolverhampton in November 2015. Gascoigne reportedly said he could not tell "if [the security guard] was smiling or not". At least four witnesses are expected to give evidence at the trial, due to take place before a district judge.
The former footballer stopped for photos with supporters as he entered Dudley magistrates' court wearing a pinstripe suit, an open pink and white shirt and glasses.
Gascoigne, who retired from football in 2005 and now lives in Poole, Dorset, also played for Everton and Middlesbrough and earned a total of 57 caps for England between 1988 and 1998. Since hanging up his boots, Gascoigne has fought a long battle with alcoholism.
During the show after which the alleged comment was made, the former midfielder quipped: "I'm not ganna bore you with too many f*****g football stories – because I can't f*****g remember them." In its review of the show, the Express & Star reported the audience took an "audible gasp as the laughter instantly dropped from raucous to nervous" after the alleged comment.