Italian World Cup winner Dino Zoff insists watching Paul Gascoigne “throw away his art” was the “biggest regret of my career. My heart cried for him.”
Zoff coached Gascoigne when the Englishman chose to take his talents to Lazio after the World Cup in 1990.
But the former Tottenham and Newcastle star failed to make the most of his ability after he looked to have the world at his feet.
And Zoff, who refers to the Geordie as a "great artist", concedes it was difficult to watch the episode unfold.
“I was desperate. He was a great artist who lost his art,” Zoff told Rai Radio 2.
“I have always admired the artists, the ones who are the creators. The goalkeeper creates nothing.
“He made me crazy with rage, I was sorry for him, he threw away his art in a bad way.
“My heart cried for him. Already at that time it was clear he would have problems when he stopped playing. It was a logical consequence. It may make everything worse to stop when you are at the peak of your career.”
Gascoigne spent three years in Rome before returning to the British Isles with Rangers.
But there was always a sense of what might have been with a player who was immensely talented.
Zoff recalls when Lazio returned after a summer break and Gascoigne had put a lot of weight, saying he couldn’t recognise the player.
“One year he returned to the training camp having put on 12 kgs. He showed up with a ponytail and an extra 12kg.
"I was desperate. When I saw him arrive at the training ground, I asked who that character was. It was Gascoigne. It’s the biggest regret of my career."