Former Norwich City player and manager battling dementia

NCFC - The Canaries October "player of the month" John Deehan pic taken 2nd nov 1982 c12551

Former Norwich City player and manager John Deehan is battling dementia. - Credit: Archant Library

Former Norwich City striker and manager John Deehan has spent the past six years battling dementia, his family has revealed.

Deehan wife's Linda has announced that the 64-year-old, who played for the Canaries between 1981 and 1986, has been struggling with the condition since the age of 58.

The striker - who still holds the club record for the most goals in the top flight - is the latest former footballer to suffer from neurodegenerative disease, which research is increasingly linking to the sport.

Among those to speak out in support of Deehan is fellow former City striker Chris Sutton, whose father, also an ex-player, died in 2020 after battling dementia.

John Deehan with the Milk Cup, following Norwich City's Wembley final victory over Sunderland in 1985.

John Deehan with the Milk Cup, following Norwich City's Wembley final victory over Sunderland in 1985. - Credit: Archant

In a statement, Linda Deehan urged people to not be "afraid" to speak to her husband about football, if they encountered him anywhere.

She said: "If you come across him at a match or elsewhere, please don’t be afraid to interact with him.

"Please understand that John may not be able to converse in the way he once did, but he still loves to talk about football and share a laugh.

"Please be considerate if he is having a bad day and struggling."

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She added that her husband has good days and bad days and is trying to live a "normal life", but admits the situation is challenging.

She said: "Almost every day we are confronted with a new challenge.

"This disease plays tricks on his memory, so he may not be able to remember accurately, and he may find signing autographs a challenge.

"Even though things have not ended as we had planned we continue to live our lives as best we can."

The former striker is Norwich City's all-time top flight goalscorer with 48 goals and is ninth on Norwich City's all-time top scorers list with 70 goals from 199 appearances.

Deehan, who is a member of Norwich City's Hall of Fame, also played for Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Ipswich Town and Barnsley during his career.

After retiring from playing, he later became a member of the club's coaching staff in 1992 before becoming manager in 1994 after Mike Walker joined Everton.

Following the announcement, Chris Sutton, who was managed by Deehan during his time at the club, called on the footballing authorities to do more to address the link between football and dementia.

In a tweet, Sutton said: "Really sad news to hear John Deehan has had dementia for six years.

File photo dated 12-09-2017 of Chris Sutton. Issue date: Tuesday March 23, 2021.

Chris Sutton has urged the footballing authorities to do more to help. - Credit: PA

"Yet still no education plan from the FA, still no temporary concussion subs.

"Do the authorities FA, PFA think this is going to magically stop? Do something about it now."

Sutton's father, Mike, died in 2020 at the age of 76.

Bryan Gunn played under Deehan and subsequently appointed him as chief scout when he became manager in 2009.

Bryan Gunn during his time as manager of Norwich City. Picture: Steve Adams

Bryan Gunn has praised John Deehan and said he was "fantastic" to work with. - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk Ltd

The former City keeper praised Deehan for being a "fantastic and enthusiastic" coach.

He said: "He was truly fantastic and brilliant to work with.

"He had an infectious personality and would get you ready for the game.

"He was a brilliant player, coach, manager and chief scout for the club. He deserves all the support and love Norwich City fans can give him."