Gary Lineker joins 60 former footballers lobbying to create support fund for dementia sufferers | Daily Mail Online

A group of 60 former footballers including Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Sportsmail columnists Chris Sutton, Martin Keown and Micah Richards are calling on authorities to set up a support fund for ex-players suffering from neurodegenerative disease.

The group have come together through the charity, Head for Change, who want to work with the PFA, FA and Premier League to formulate a plan to help dementia-stricken players.

They want football’s key stakeholders to take the financial burden off the families of former footballers by paying for residential care — and believe younger players should be educated on the risks that potentially come with playing the game.

A group of 60 former footballers including Gary Lineker are calling on authorities to set up a support fund for ex-players suffering from neurodegenerative disease

Sportsmail has been campaigning for football to properly tackle its dementia crisis since last year — indeed one of the points of our charter was for the PFA to provide financial assistance for stricken players and their families.

Dr Willie Stewart’s FIELD study found footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to develop neurodegenerative disease. 

An extension of that study discovered the risk factor for goalkeepers is indistinguishable from that of the general public but that defenders are five times more likely — findings which suggest a link between heading the ball and dementia.

All 60 players are aged between 30 and 70, placing them in the age bracket where they have already taken on the career risks and could be affected in the future. Other players among the 60 include Kevin Keegan, Terry Butcher, Viv Anderson, John Aldridge, Paul Merson, Graeme Souness, Ray Parlour, Stuart Pearce and Niall Quinn.

Terry McDermott has been diagnosed with dementia, along with a host of his old colleagues 

Sportsmail columnist Micah Richards is also backing it, with all the players between 30 and 70

‘They observe the traumatic dementia journey which is robbing many older ex-players of their minds, while knowing they themselves may be living with a ticking time bomb of tau protein spreading through their brain like poison ivy,’ read a statement with the news of the players’ support.

Dr Judith Gates, chairwoman and co-founder of Head for Change, told Sportsmail on Monday: ‘There is an immediate need for an interim care fund to fund residential care for ex-players who are suffering from dementia.

‘Head for Change hears reports from many families who are experiencing real difficulties.’

Penny Watson, the wife of former England captain Dave Watson, who is living with dementia, added: ‘I am delighted to be involved with the Head for Change: Together campaign and thrilled that so many former footballers, some of whom Dave had close contact with after he hung up his boots through his business, have put their names to this and support its aims.

‘This is about getting things done, now. It’s remarkable what H4C has achieved in such a short time so the stakeholders should do the same. Where there’s a will there’s a way.’


John Aldridge


The DCMS backed several demands put to football’s governing bodies by Sportsmail in our seven-point charter last November:

1 – Increased funding from the FA and PFA for independent research into dementia and its links to football.

2 – The PFA to provide respite for families and carers of former professional footballers living with dementia.

3 – The PFA to appoint a dedicated ‘dementia team’ and work with, promote and financially assist Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia campaign and Dementia Connect support line.

4 – The PFA to help fund regular social events for people living with dementia and their carers.

5 – Dementia to be formally recognised as an industrial disease.

6 – Football’s lawmakers, IFAB, to ratify temporary concussion replacements.

7 – Clubs to limit heading at all levels. Maximum of 20 headers per session in training. Minimum 48 hours between sessions.

Gary Lineker joins 60 former footballers lobbying to create support fund for dementia sufferers

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