‘I lived with Gazza – he purchased haunted home and altered locks to cease ghosts’

Paul Merson has revealed that Paul Gascoigne once got spooked after splashing out on a supposed haunted house.

The iconic midfielders infamously lived together during their playing days after being persuaded to move to Middlesbrough by manager and ex-England legend Bryan Robson. The pair helped Boro to Premier League promotion and played in the 1998 League Cup final but their life off the pitch was a little more chaotic.

Merson and Gascoigne lived with Jimmy ‘Fivebellies’ Gardner and Merson’s brother during their time at Boro. Wanting to move closer to his family, Merson has recalled how ‘Gazza’ ended up with a ghoulish surprise when he went house-hunting.

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“We were living together in Hutton Rudby. There was me, Gazza, Jimmy Fivebellies and my brother,” Merson told his Football’s Greatest Podcast with Jeff Stelling. “He got up one morning and said ‘I want to move nearer to my Mum and Dad.’

“We went and had a look at this hall, beautiful hall. He’s come downstairs and said, ‘Why is it so cheap? No one’s bought it.’

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Paul Merson (L) and Paul Gascoigne (R) celebrate Middlesbrough's promotion to the Premier League in 1998
Paul Merson (L) and Paul Gascoigne (R) have some wild stories from their time living together

“[The estate agent] said, ‘It’s meant to be haunted.’ As soon as she said that, he said, ‘I’ll take it straight away.’ We go home and he rings up his mate and says ‘I’ve just bought so-and-so hall.’”

“It must have been well-known because if it wasn’t his mate would have asked where it was and all that,” Merson continued. “So [Gascoigne] said, ‘I want you to put a snooker table in, I want it to be decorated, do the gardens, and I want the locks changed on the doors and the windows.’

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“He puts the phone down, sitting there having a drink, and about 15 minutes later my brother went, ‘What you changing the locks on the windows and doors for, Gaz?’

“He went, ‘So the ghosts can’t get in.’ He was serious!”

Their time together at Boro proved to be short-lived as former Arsenal icon Merson left for Aston Villa in September 1998, just six months after Gascoigne had arrived on Teesside.