Gazza's tales from the past proves a fascinating insight into the real Glenn RoederThu 20 Dec 07 by Latest News
Despite Glenn Roeder being in charge of the Canaries for less than two months, some of the City squad would no doubt think they know him pretty well by now.
But I bet they don't know his ins and outs as well as a certain Paul Gascoigne, the footballing genius who struck up a close friendship with the man now in charge at Carrow Road during their time together at Newcastle.
From the day Roeder arrived on Tyneside in 1984, he and Gazza just clicked. Despite the 10-year age gap, the City boss took the fragile and explosive Gascoigne under his wing and that was proof even then that Roeder had remarkable leadership qualities – something that the Italia '90 England hero explains in his autobiography 'Gazza. My Story'.
“Glenn was a natural leader and very good to the young players, someone you could go to for advice. He was also a very snapper dresser, he'd come up from London with all the latest styles.”
“In the 1985-86 season, Glenn Roeder was probably the greatest support to me. 'You're doing well. Keep it up,' he'd say to me all the time during games. And when I was still quite young, he took me home with him, to where he lived in Essex, for a bit of a holiday.
“While I was there, he drove me past this big, posh house. 'Look at that,' he said, pointing it out to me. 'Trevor Brooking lives there. One of these days, if you work hard, keep at it, and don't get distracted, you could have a house like that.' I was dead impressed with him.”
This, for me, shows the character of the man. He didn't have to be Gascoigne's mentor. The man himself would be the first to admit he was hard work, and that is probably being kind.
Plenty of good people would have just been happy to keep out of his way, trying not to be the victim of his latest prank. To many, he would have quite simply been a pain in the backside.
But Roeder saw the best in Gascoigne and wanted to guide him to where he knew he could go ? the very top of world football. Those leadership qualities shone through even then. This was a man who was destined to be a coach, a manager and a leader of men.
It was when Gascoigne was on the verge of completing his dream move to Italian giants Lazio ? despite his cruciate knee ligament injury playing for Tottenham in the 1991 FA Cup final – where Roeder stepped up to the plate again.
He was about to retire from football after an impressive career in which he captained QPR and Newcastle but Roeder still felt duty bound to help his mate along the way, especially as Gazza was taking such a big step into the unknown; he couldn't let him down now?
“In August 1991, I went to Rome to meet the Lazio management and be officially introduced to the club.
“My dad and some of the family came, along with Glenn Roeder, my old team-mate from Newcastle. He was planning his retirement from football and was looking to go into coaching.
“Although he's ten years older than me, I'd always got on well with him and he had been great to me since I'd come south to Spurs, sheltering me when I was in trouble, giving me helpful advice and showing me real kindness.
“It had been decided that he and his wife Faith and his family would come and live in Rome while I was there to keep an eye on me.
“He would be my football friend and companion and stop me from doing anything too daft. It was also an opportunity for him to look at Italian coaching methods, to see how they did things, which he thought would be useful to him in his future career.”
But with the Roeder family looking to settle in Italy for the foreseeable future, things suddenly took a turn for the worse, and it was a familiar old story that proved to be Gascoigne's downfall.
Whilst on a short visit back to the North-East, he was enjoying a night out with some old friends when disaster struck.
In a Newcastle nightclub, he was suddenly a target for assault and in a completely unprovoked attack, was punched in the face. Whilst falling to the floor, his knee gave way ? undoing all the surgeon's good work from that earth-shattering Cup final injury.
I'll let Gazza take up the story?
“When Glenn heard what had happened, he said, 'that's it.' He didn't even want to hear my explanation. It had not been my fault but Glenn said I'd promised myself never to get into scrapes like that, and not put myself in any situation where it could happen.
“I argued this wasn't fair. It could have happened anywhere. But he wouldn't listen. He said that was the end, that I'd had my last chance. And he cancelled all his arrangements for Rome.”
So it was there where the friendship sailed in a different direction and Gascoigne doesn't really mention the City chief again in the rest of the book ? and we all know that plenty has happened to the Geordie favourite since his Lazio days.
But Roeder is clearly a decent human being, someone who enjoys helping and mentoring others but somebody who also knows when to draw the line.
It is these qualities which could be so important to the Canaries in their battle to beat the drop and we have already seen evidence of his man-management skills in his short time in Norfolk.
In two months, he has transformed a quiet squad, seriously lacking in confidence, into a group of players who now believe again, and that is no mean feat.
This is a man who was born to be a manager; let's hope City can reap the rewards.