Glenn Hoddle underwent an intense religious experience that changed his life during a visit to the Holy Land when England played in Israel in 1985. The comedian Jasper Carrott said: 'Glenn found God. That must have been a hell of a pass.' But the England coach needed all his faith and belief this week after the furore over his comments about disabled people, especially the alleged quote that people with mental and physical handicaps were paying for sins committed in a previous incarnation. Hoddle accepted he had made 'a serious error of judgment' which caused 'misunderstanding and pain'. He added: 'This was never my intention and for this I apologise.' But no amount of apologising could stem the calls from all quarters - including Prime Minister Tony Blair's office - for the England coach's head. On Tuesday, the Football Association, previously his staunchest protectors, served it up on a plate. As a player for Tottenham in the 1970s and 80s, the dazzlingly talented Hoddle would tiptoe through the midfield mayhem, outwitting the cloggers and hardmen to spray around passes of rare quality and fire in goals of audacious brilliance. But such instinct for avoiding trouble deserted him as the England coach of the late 1990s, with the fallen idol presiding over a struggling team and lurching from one public relations disaster to another. His controversial use of faith healer Eileen Drewery, his cavalier handling of young players such as Michael Owen and David Beckham, his ill-advised World Cup diary, his contempt for the media and his strained relationship with senior players - not to mention England's poor performances - turned him into Public Enemy No 1, at least in the eyes of the tabloid press. The Holy Land experience led to Hoddle often being described as a born-again Christian - a label he disliked and which was also incorrect. For Hoddle had retained strong spiritual beliefs for years. His link with Drewery dated back to the mid-1970s, as Hoddle explained in his autobiography. 'I first met Eileen when I was 18, and had just got into the Spurs first team. I'd started going out with her daughter, Michelle, and went round to her house one day for coffee. I didn't know Eileen was a healer then, but I happened to be out of the game with a torn hamstring. 'As I was leaving she turned round to me and asked me what my injury was. When she told me she was going to do some absent prayer, I looked at her really strangely. I thought, 'What's this all about?' It's quite a natural reaction. I understand why people react like that when I talk about her now. But she told me to see if the injury was any better in the morning, and it was. It was incredible. There was no more pain. The Spurs physio had told me I'd be out for six to seven weeks, but I trained two days later and played on the third day.' Hoddle became a regular visitor to Drewery, a pub landlady at the time. 'Often Eileen and I would talk for five or six hours. She would explain to me how healing works, and I would go off searching for my own answers. Over a period of time everything started falling into place. On the spiritual side, my faith in God got stronger and stronger.' Sir Cliff Richard was also credited with helping Hoddle on the path to salvation. The pair were introduced in 1981 at a Christians in Sport dinner when Hoddle was experiencing 'confusion' over his religion. Hoddle was born in 1958 in Hayes, west London, into a working-class family. His father was a toolmaker, his mother a housewife. As soon as young Glenn could walk he was kicking a rolled-up ball of wool around the house and, as he grew, it was obvious he was developing into a rare football talent. After shining for various schools sides, he signed as an apprentice for Tottenham Hotspur in 1974. Spurred on by his inner belief, Hoddle enjoyed a successful career with Spurs, helping them win the FA Cup in 1981 and 1982, although many observers felt his talent warranted more than the 53 England caps he gained under Ron Greenwood and Bobby Robson. Keen to expand his horizons, and with one eye already on a career in coaching, he joined Monaco in 1987 and helped them to the French League title within 12 months. He returned to England as player-manager at Swindon, encouraging a continental style and winning promotion to the Premiership in 1993. Immediately afterwards, he joined Chelsea as player-manager and, in 1996, was appointed England coach after Terry Venables stood down following England's defeat in the semi-finals of the European Championship finals. By October 1997 Hoddle was a national hero, a goalless draw against Italy in Rome securing automatic passage to the World Cup finals in France. From there, though, the wheels began to come off the Hoddle bandwagon. His association with Drewery provoked a storm of criticism. Despite her lack of sporting qualifications, he hired her as a consultant during the run-up to the World Cup to cure the players of a range of physical and psychological ailments, a move that laid him open to ridicule. 'You don't understand,' the coach fumed as the media poked fun and suggested England would be flying to France in a mumbo-jumbo. But there was a growing belief among some senior England stars that Hoddle was biased towards those players prepared to be treated by Drewery. Darren Anderton, the injury-plagued Tottenham midfielder, consulted her regularly and swore by her methods. He was chosen for the World Cup squad. Ray Parlour of Arsenal, one of Anderton's rivals for the right-sided midfield berth, quipped 'short back and sides, please' when Drewery laid her hands on his head. He was left at home. Liverpool midfielder Steve McManaman was later to compare Hoddle's training camps to a 'cult'. Next, Hoddle's authority was openly flouted by striker Teddy Sheringham, who was pictured smoking, drinking and cavorting in a Portuguese nightclub when he was supposed to be resting at home with the World Cup just two weeks away. Yet Sheringham kept his place as England's World Cup finals campaign began in controversial fashion, Hoddle stubbornly refusing to include 18-year-old goalscoring sensation Owen in his starting line-up against Tunisia. An even bigger surprise was Hoddle's dropping of golden boy Beckham - the coach claimed he was 'not focused' - in favour of Anderton. He then added to Beckham's torment by sending him out to face a media grilling, a decision lambasted by the player's club manager at Manchester United, Alex Ferguson. In the opening group stages, a straightforward 2-0 win over Tunisia was followed by a calamitous - and pivotal - 2-1 defeat to Romania and a comfortable 2-0 win over Colombia. The Romania setback condemned England to the tougher half of the draw in the knockout stages and a clash with old rivals Argentina. England, boosted by a wonder goal from Owen, were 2-2 and matching Argentina blow for blow when Beckham was sent off just after half-time for a petulant kick at an opponent. The brave 10 men fought all the way through extra time before elimination on penalties, Hoddle having neglected to make them practise spot-kicks in training. England's record in France was played four, won two, lost two. They were eliminated at the first knockout stage. Yet, according to Hoddle, his team came within a whisker of winning the tournament. 'We had been knocked out of a World Cup yet there was also a feeling of how well we'd done,' he recalled. 'The saddest thing is that we won't know what we could have achieved. We could have gone all the way and won it.' But Hoddle was heading towards his biggest storm to date with the publication of his World Cup diary - ghost-written by the FA's public relations chief, David Davies. The warts-and-all inside story on England's failed campaign revealed personal details about many players and officials. His vivid description of Paul Gascoigne's angry reaction to being left out of the squad led to accusations of betrayal. The fact that Hoddle sold the book's serial rights for ?250,000 to The Sun, a newspaper he had regularly vilified, added to the furore. According to the diary, Gascoigne began smashing up a hotel room after being told he would not be in the World Cup squad. The player was drunk and acted like a man possessed, Hoddle said, swearing, kicking over a chair and smashing a lamp in the Spanish hotel room where the squad were staying. 'I thought about trying to talk to him but knew I couldn't, not while he was in this state. He was ranting, swearing and slurring his words. He was acting like a man possessed,' Hoddle wrote. The remarks sparked a barrage of criticism. Bryan Robson, a former England teammate of Hoddle and now Gascoigne's manager at Middlesbrough, said: 'It is pathetic the way everyone is jumping on the Gazza bandwagon. There are too many people living off the back of Gazza's reputation.' Former England striker Gary Lineker added: 'I'm quite amazed that Glenn has been so frank about it. He just didn't need to mention some of the things he did.' The England coach also insisted in his book that he had not made any mistakes during France 98 other than failing to take Drewery as a member of the England contingent. Her presence would have boosted the team's performance 'by 20 per cent', he claimed. It led a respected football journalist to write: 'In that case Eileen must take a pretty good penalty.' But Hoddle stood behind Drewery's involvement in the squad and said if the FA tried to forbid him from using her it would become 'an issue'. With the diary provoking frenzied debate, Hoddle defended its publication, saying: 'I'm very surprised by all the fuss and when people read the book they will be able to make their own decisions. There has been no adverse feelings among the players, they have been very positive and there have been no problems. I asked any players to come and see me if they had a problem and not one came forward.' So Hoddle was hardly in a position to argue when one of his senior players, former captain Tony Adams, published his own book which delivered a wide-ranging attack on the coach's World Cup tactics. In Addicted, also serialised in The Sun, Adams said Hoddle had made four major errors - he was wrong to pick Alan Shearer as captain, he had humiliated Beckham in front of the players at training, he had treated the players like children and he had encouraged Gascoigne to drink the night before dropping him. Adams, a former alcoholic, said: 'Gazza was an ill man and Glenn did not properly understand the illness of addiction.' Hoddle next had to defuse a row over his use of vitamin injections, given to several England players during France 98. It had emerged that every player in the squad was given vitamin and mineral supplements and two were given boosters by injection. United boss Ferguson later questioned the practice, forcing Hoddle on the defensive. 'I'm afraid some people must have their heads in the sand,' the coach said. 'To suggest there is anything wrong or that the players are on drugs is outrageous.' The diary row hung heavily over the England camp as the team made a woeful start to their qualifying campaign for the 2000 European Championship finals with a demoralising 2-1 defeat in Sweden. Paul Ince was sent off, appearing to flick a V-sign at the England bench on his way to the tunnel. The players' lack of respect for Hoddle was becoming clear, echoed by Shearer's comments that the uproar surrounding the diary had not helped preparations. In October, Hoddle was booed back to the Wembley dressing room after a dire goalless draw against Bulgaria. England failed to lift the gloom with a laboured 3-0 away win over Luxembourg which involved an alleged dressing-room row between Hoddle and captain Shearer. Reports claimed that after Hoddle had questioned his players' second-half display, Shearer had retorted: 'Have you ever thought it might be you?' Coach and player issued swift denials. 'It was 100 per cent vicious lies,' Hoddle said. Although England struggled on the pitch, Hoddle stalled on signing an extension to his contract, demanding a pay rise he claimed was due to him. He finally reached an agreement with the FA that linked the increase to England's performance in the Euro 2000 qualifying competition. With the media criticising his tactics and questioning how he could seek such an increase, Hoddle fired back: 'I don't care two monkeys what the press think and you can quote me on that.' The New Year began with more negative publicity when he was divorced from his wife of 18 years, Anne, because of his adultery. Hoddle fiercely denied he had been unfaithful and even released a statement through the FA to that effect. Yet his affair with another woman was cited in his wife's divorce petition. Previously regarded as the epitome of the devoted husband, he had been chosen to feature with his family in an advert for a breakfast cereal. The project was hastily dropped. But Hoddle's greatest gaffe to date was just around the corner. He allegedly told The Times last Saturday that people were reincarnated 'to learn and face some of the things you have done - good and bad'. He was quoted as saying: 'You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. I have nothing to hide about that. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap.'