PAUL Gascoigne last night revealed he cheated death when a helicopter door burst open — and he wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
The former Newcastle, Spurs, Lazio and England star, 53, was being flown from a hospital visit back to an island for the Italian version of I’m A Celebrity.
He said: “I’m scared of flying at the best of times and always say a little prayer before take off. But I was chatting to the pilot as we were taking off so I must have forgotten my seat belt.
“We are over the sea when he pulls to the right and the door flies open and I lurch towards it.
“I’ve never been so frightened. My career and family flashed in front of my eyes — but I managed to hold on and slide the door closed.
“I told the pilot what happened and we just exchanged glances as if to say, ‘F* hell, that was close’.
“I thought if I fell out into the sea I might survive the drop but I was scared there might be sharks.
“I could see the headlines. Fat bloke who was good at football falls out of a helicopter and is eaten by a shark.”
Gazza had just spent five days being treated after dislocating his shoulder while taking part in a spaghetti and meatballs challenge. He spent 38 days on the Honduran isle of Cayos Cochinos and is now in quarantine in Milan.
He reckons he is the healthiest he has been in years after losing a stone and a half on the show. And he had to pass a series of tough physical and mental tests before being flown out from his home in Bournemouth.
He said: “I’ve had my battles with booze but now I can control it.
“I’ve had the occasional blip and I have a glass of wine or beer but that’s it — I know when to stop. The only thing I’m addicted to now is keeping fit and coffee!
“I had at least 15 cups a day but none on the island. Now I’m out I’m trying to keep it down and I’m wolfing down lots of chocolate instead. I do have the odd cigarette but only smoke half and put it out.”
Recalling his shoulder injury, he said: “I managed to whack it back in as it’s happened a few times but the medics said I had to go to hospital.
“So we jumped in the helicopter and took off.
“I remember looking down at the campmates all tucking into spaghetti and meatballs and thinking, ‘You b*s, I helped win that. I’m starving hungry and I’m not going to get anything.’”
Despite surgery, the injury eventually forced him to quit.
He said: “I was in great shape, so it is really gutting.”
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