Calls for football authorities to provide care for ex-players with dementia

Norwich footballer Duncan Forbes, who later became victim to Alzheimer's Disease.

Norwich footballer Duncan Forbes, who later became victim to Alzheimer's Disease.

Calls are being made for the authorities in football to provide care for former players who are living with dementia or Alzheimer's disease as a result of their career.

Former Liverpool striker Ian St John is the latest to raise the issue of dementia as a possible result of heading heavy footballs in the 1950s and 1960s.

The 78-year-old told BBC Radio 5: 'People of our era, the balls we played with were big, heavy things,

'To lift them up to take a throw-in you'd have to do special training, and the conditions we played in - snow, rain and mud - and we trained with these things as well, every day, heading practice as well.

'Whether this problem of dementia hastens the end of your life or not I don't know, I'm not a medical person - but what I am saying is these were my pals, these were the guys I played with and they have got these problems.

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'If someone needs special care as a result of their career and their career was football, then football should pay for that.'

The call comes after two former Canaries players - Duncan Forbes and Martin Peters - both became victims of Alzheimer's disease.

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Last year the Football Association announced it was planning to explore whether heading footballs can create a greater risk of developing brain illness in later life.

Mr Forbes made more than 300 appearances for the Canaries, and first showed signs of Alzheimer's around 2005.

His wife, Janette Forbes said: 'As Duncan was a centre back he used to head the ball all the time. In training he even used to head a medicine ball – the theory was he would be able to head a football further. There is no doubt in my mind that this has caused his problems nowadays.'

The connection was brought to the public eye in 2002, when former England striker Jeff Astle died of a degenerative brain disease at 59.

A coroner concluded that Mr Astle's death was an 'industrial disease' due to heading the ball.

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