Gordon McQueen, who was revered for his bravery in the air during a career that saw him play for Leeds and Manchester United and earn 30 caps for Scotland, has warned modern-day footballers of the risks of heading balls after being diagnosed with vascular dementia.
His family said that although the 68-year-old was still fully aware of his friends and relatives, his cognitive functions were no longer the same. They said he feared that heading a ball repeatedly may have been a factor.
“Football has allowed him to travel the world and experience things he could only have dreamed of,” they said in a statement. “But he wants other footballers of today’s generation to know there may be risks with persistent heading of the ball.”
“Dad scored some important goals in his career and memorable headers but used to stay back in training, heading the ball to the goalkeeper for practice over and over. He does wonder if this has been a factor in his dementia as his symptoms appeared in his mid-60s.”
McQueen is the latest footballer to be diagnosed with dementia. Last year two of England’s 1966 World Cup winners, Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles, were revealed to have died with it, and Sir Bobby Charlton has been diagnosed with the condition.
The Football Association is supporting two independently led research studies examining former players for early signs of neurocognitive degeneration.
McQueen began his career at St Mirren before moving to Elland Road in 1972, winning the First Division two years later and playing an important role in their run to the 1975 European Cup final before moving to Manchester United.
After managing Airdrie during his coaching career, he went on to become a popular TV pundit with Sky Sports. In 2013 he revealed how a specialist surgeon, who lived two doors from him, saved his life after he was diagnosed with throat cancer.
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