London: Paul Gascoigne told the High Court in London recently that phone hacking by a newspaper group had driven the former England football star to alcoholism and destroyed his life.

Former Spurs and England player Paul Gascoigne. Pic/Getty Images
Former Spurs and England player Paul Gascoigne. Pic/Getty Images 

Gascoigne, 47, said he was afraid to speak to his family, lost friends he thought were betraying him and spent 80,000 pounds (113,000 euros, $120,000) on counter-surveillance equipment.

"I would like to trade my mobile phone in for a coffin because these guys have ruined my life. I have no life," the ex-Tottenham and Lazio midfielder said.

A series of high-profile figures are giving evidence at the High Court as it determines what compensation should be paid by Mirror Group Newspapers to people whose voicemail was intercepted by its journalists.

'Hacked for ages'
MGN publishes Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People national tabloids, the chief competitors to media baron Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid stable. "I knew I was getting hacked by the Mirror.

"This continued for ages," Gascoigne told the court. "I changed my mobile. It happened again so I kept on changing mobiles, five or six times a month."

Gascoigne, who is complaining about 18 articles — all accepted to have been the product of illegal activity — said: "I was scared to speak to anybody... my parents, my family and kids, it was just horrendous.

"And people can't understand why I became an alcoholic." The 1990 World Cup star's evidence was not challenged by MGN's lawyer.