Former Rangers star Stuart McCall claims a potential loss of trust in Paul Gascoigne led to the midfielder's departure in 1998.

Walter Smith allowed his playmaker to leave for Middlebrough with Ten In A Row title immortality on the line.

The maverick England international would end up missing out on a place at the 1998 World Cup and his former team suffered their own heartache as Celtic ended their domestic dominance.

And McCall reckons the lack of responsibility north of the border led to his undoing after two thrilling seasons at Ibrox.

Speaking to the One Last Match podcast, the former Rangers boss said: “Without a doubt. That was the saddest part, the last season, going for the elusive 10. Gazza left halfway through the season and went to Middlesbrough.

“And it was sad really because when Paul had responsibility, when his wife and the kids were up the road, he had responsibility taking them to school in the morning, picking them up in the afternoon. 

“As soon that went and his missus had gone back down to London, what did he do in the afternoon? He went shooting, he went fishing, a game of snooker, always probably ended up with a couple of beers.

“And he had no responsibility then and, a bit lonely if you like. He had his pals, Five Bellies and that, but not having the kids around and his missus around affected him a lot, his performances.

“He had a couple of injuries and I don’t think in that last season we saw the Paul Gascoigne we had seen in the previous two. And that was a major part in us not reaching what we wanted to.”

And McCall reckons a combination between his close pal's concentration lapsing and the emergence of midfield options made the decision to allow Gazza leave an easier one for the coaching staff to swallow.

He added:  “I think Walter and Archie (Knox) would have been fantastic for him. I’m sure Paul would be the first to say, some of the scrapes he got himself into, Walter stood by him.

“But it came to a stage where, wouldn’t say gone off the rails a little bit, but again I keep going back to the word responsibility. Not having people there, having too much time on his hands.

“Not knowing what to do with his time, getting caught up in the wrong things maybe. Which affected his football.

“As I said he had injuries along the way and we had a lot of midfielders at the time. Barry Ferguson was coming through, Gattuso was there, Jonas Thern had come in, Jorg Albertz could play there, myself, Derek McInnes, Ian Ferguson, you know, we had a lot of midfielders.

“It maybe got to the stage where Walter couldn’t maybe trust or rely on Paul at times, which was sad really, because I have no doubt if we had the Gazza of the first two seasons that I had with him he would have been brilliant.

"But unfortunately things off the field affected him probably as much as they did on it.”