Ex-Norwich City star Chris Sutton tells of dad Mike’s dementia battle and calls for action

Former city midfielder Mike Sutton.
Photo Simon Finlay
copy Chris Wise
for EDP sport

Former city midfielder Mike Sutton. Photo Simon Finlay copy Chris Wise for EDP sport . - Credit: EDP / Archant 2003

The son of former Norwich City midfielder Mike Sutton has spoken of his dad's battle with dementia and his family's certainty that it was caused through football.

Chris Sutton, who also played for the Canaries between 1991 and 1994, is now calling for action over the possible link between the sport and the degenerative brain disease.

It comes after research published last month revealed for the first time that repeatedly heading the ball could result in long-term brain damage.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Mr Sutton said he had become outraged by the number of former players suffering from dementia and the football authorities allegedly 'sweeping the issue under the carpet'.

Campaigners have been calling for the Football Association and Professional Footballers Association to work with independent researchers on the issue.

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Mr Sutton, a former England striker, said he first became aware of the potential link between the sport and dementia when he heard the plight Duncan Forbes, another Norwich City player.

His own dad, Mike Sutton, who is now 72, played for city during the 1960s and has been suffering from dementia for the past six years.

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Mr Sutton said: 'I see my dad a lot and he has got progressively worse.

'He's in a position now where my mum looks after him. They live in Glasgow in a small flat. It is 24-hour care. My dad can't sleep unless my mum is next to him.

'It's really hard for her. It's not like she can get a good night's sleep. He has this insecurity and is totally reliant on her. He can't clean his teeth properly. He can't find his way to the bathroom from the bedroom. He barely speaks.

'He was a strong man. Things like reading and watching television are just impossible for him because he can't remember what's happened two minutes ago. He colours now. There's nothing wrong with colouring but he was never into art.'

Mr Sutton retired from football a decade ago on medical advice after experiencing blurred vision in his right eye.

He said the issue might not just be for past players, adding that the next generation of footballers were also being let down.

'Until we get to the bottom of it, who knows what might happen in the future,' he said. 'We talk about the PFA letting down our heroes of the past but it's the players of the present and the future as well.'

Both the PFA and FA now say they are committed to new research but nothing concrete has been announced, the Telegraph said.

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