Paul Gascoigne makes emotional return to Lazio for Spurs match

Paul Gascoigne salutes supporters in Rome

Former England star Paul Gascoigne was moved to the brink of tears as he returned to Rome for a match between two of his former clubs on Thursday.

He was Lazio's guest of honour for their Europa League game against Spurs.

The 45-year-old donned a light blue-and-white scarf, the colours of the Italian side, and was paraded in front of the crowd before kick-off.

"Welcome back Gazza. Lionheart, headstrong, pure talent, real man: still our hero," read one banner.

The former England midfielder played for Lazio from 1992 to 1995 and was a cult hero for the Serie A side. He joined them for £5.5m from Tottenham, who he played for from 1988 to 1992.

Gascoigne had looked set to miss the tie at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome after being booked to speak at an event in the UK on Friday.

But, despite a fear of flying, he caught a plane to Italy and appeared in front of a crowd of 20,000.

Lazio supporters display a banner featuring Gascoigne
Lazio supporters displayed a banner featuring Gascoigne during the tie

Gascoigne scored six times for Lazio, including a late equaliser in the Rome derby against Roma in November 1992.

He had declined an invite to September's reverse fixture at White Hart Lane, which ended in a goalless draw, due to "personal reasons".

But his agent, Terry Baker, confirmed on Tuesday he would be flying to Italy after Lazio's general manager, Maurizio Manzini, invited him back to Rome.

Former Newcastle and Rangers player Gascoigne has struggled with alcohol problems since retirement.

But Baker said Gascoigne was in good shape thanks to a rigorous exercise routine that saw him spend two hours a day in the gym.

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