Tearful Gazza scoops book award

Football star Paul Gascoigne made an emotional appearance at the British Book Awards as his autobiography won a top literary prize.

Football star Paul Gascoigne made an emotional appearance at the British Book Awards as his autobiography won a top literary prize.

Gascoigne broke down as he took the stage last night to accept the Sports Book of the Year award for Gazza: My Story.

He spoke movingly about his battles against alcohol and drug addiction.

And members of the star-studded audience at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London were also reduced to tears as the former England hero made his speech.

Accepting his award from sports presenter Des Lynam, Gascoigne said: “It’s really special for me to win this award because I’ve been through a lot.

“This is the third victory for me in the past two years.

“The first was against alcohol. The second was against drugs. I can never say if I might go back to drink or drugs tomorrow. But this award is for life.”

Afterwards the former Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur star said: “When they called my name out I said to myself: ’Don’t cry, don’t cry,’ but when I got up there I couldn’t help myself.

“To win this award you needed the support of the public and I got that. I’m thankful to them and I’m proud of myself.”

The star, at the awards with his father John, admitted he was suffering from depression but reassured fans his condition was due only to imbalance in his medication.

Gazza: My Story beat autobiographies by Olympic stars Kelly Holmes and Matthew Pinsent and former England rugby coach Clive Woodward.

Alongside Gascoigne, US author Dan Brown emerged triumphant for his publishing phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, which was named book of the year.

The conspiracy thriller has enraged the Vatican and has been derided by high-brow literary critics.

Brown, a former teacher who rarely makes public appearances, sent a videoed acceptance speech to the awards ceremony.

He told of his delight that the book had sparked worldwide religious debate but added: “For the record, it is a novel.”

The 16th annual British Book Awards were hosted by TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.

Actress Sheila Hancock was named author of the year for The Two Of Us: My Life With John Thaw, in which she wrote frankly about her marriage to the late Inspector Morse star.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Sir John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey. It was presented by a surprise guest – his actress daughter Emily.

The awards will be broadcast on Friday, April 22, on Channel 4.

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