The Future for Football: Heading, Brain Injury and Dementia

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PART 1)  The Need for State Intervention to Reduce the Potential for Brain Injury from Football

PART 2)  The Need to Reduce or Eliminate Heading as part of Football (Soccer)

PART 3)  The Cost of Football, Heading and Brain Injury to Health Services

PART 4)  The Need for a Preventative Sport and Dementia Strategy

PART 5)  Football and Heading: The Need to Resolve Conflicts of Interest 

PART 6)  An Examination of Former Soccer Players with Cognitive Decline  

PART 7)  A List of Former UK Footballers Who Have Suffered From Dementia 


There are UK Videos on Football and Heading and US Videos on Football and Brain Injury

PART 1) The Need for State Intervention to Reduce the Potential for Brain Injury from Football

A Definition of Dementia


Dementia is the progressive deterioration of intellectual functions, such as memory, that can occur while other brain functions such as those controlling movement and the senses are retained.


1: Previous Cases of Dementia in Former Footballers

This section outlines some previous examples of dementia in former players.  Members of the Aston Villa, 1957 FA Cup, winning side may have died as a result of brain injuries from heading footballs.  Spurs players, from 1961, Dave Mackay, Peter Baker and Ron Henry have suffered from dementia.  Also, Danny Blanchflower, who captained Tottenham in 1961, died after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in 1993 (aged only 67).  Former footballer, Ian St John, has highlighted neurological problems among former 1964 Liverpool players  Ron Yeats, Tommy Smith and Geoff Strong.  Also, members of the 1966,  England World Cup Winning Team have dementia.  


A coroner ruled Jeff Astle, the former England footballer, renowned for his heading ability, died from dementia caused by repeatedly heading the ball.  Astle died of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  This is a disease caused by impacts to the head which produced symptoms, similar to dementia, including memory loss.  It is a form of dementia that occurs when the frontal lobes of the brain begin to shrink and could be responsible for 10%-15% of dementia cases.  Other significant cases of dementia, in former footballers, include John McNamee, the former Newcastle United central defender and Billy McNeil, the former Celtic central defender.  There is also the case of the former Cambridge defender Chris Turner who died of dementia which was attributed to heading footballs.


Brandi Chastain, the former women’s American soccer player is highly aware of the possible links between playing football and dementia.  She has agreed to donate her brain to medical science when she dies.  In the UK, former Blackburn strikers Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton are leading calls for more research into the possible link between heading footballs and dementia.  Further research is needed to build upon the examples of dementia which have been identified.


2: A Model to Show Greater Public Awareness of Dementia and Sport


In 2014, the former England test cricketer, Ed Smith, wrote an article on the possible links between American football and brain damage.  From this article, a model of ‘awareness of sporting risk’ and dementia can be developed.  The model argues that, first, there was an awareness of the links between boxing and dementia; going back to 1928.  More recently, there has been an awareness that participation in American football, rugby and soccer can lead to dementia.


With the death of the batsman Philip Hughes concern over risk could reach cricket.  A solution might be that any ball bowled over shoulder height is counted as a wide with one run added to the batting team’s run total.  The batsman cannot be out, from such a delivery, except by means of a run-out.


3: The Number of Times a Player can Head a Football during a Career


If a player makes 10 headers, per game, with 50 games per season, including competitive pre-season friendlies, then that is 500 headers per season.  If there is a 20 year long career (500*20) then that is 10,000 career headers in total.  Another estimation suggests that football players play 300 games and head the ball more than 2000 times during their careers.


4:  Issues for Football to Address 

Playing Position (Greater Risk for Central Defenders and Centre Forwards ?)


The football industry needs to consider whether some footballers are at greater risk of dementia.  The central positions, such as central defenders and centre forwards, could be at greater risk of dementia, due to the need to head the ball near the goal.  Such players may require greater protection from the 'rules of the game'.

Type of Ball (The Difference Between the Older and Newer Ball)

The older match ball may have been of a higher standard than the much-kicked training ball.  Therefore, the older training ball could have presented a greater risk, to the footballer, than a newer training ball.  Also, the older footballs may have become more dangerous as they became heavier with the rain water.  However, newer footballs are more aerodynamic and modern players can kick the ball harder due to greater athleticism.  Therefore, the newer football can travel faster and can still be dangerous due to the greater force of impact.  The newer ball may not be safer than earlier versions of the ball.  This is because the relevant factor which determines brain injury is the amount of energy imparted on the head by the ball; rather than the weight of the ball. It should also be acknowledged that heading a football can give players worse brain injuries than unintentional head collisions.

Possible Rule Changes (A Ball-Height Rule and New Dimensions for the Goal)

The most dangerous form of header can be from long clearance from a goalkeeper.  There could be a modification to the existing game where it is not permissible to head the ball from a goal kick.  However, this would be an unnecessary complication.  To fully reduce the dementia risk from heading, then a 'kick-ball' game is a viable option.  It is simpler and safer to have a game where the football is kept at ground level; below 1.5 metres in height.  There is an opportunity to have a 5 a side type of game with eleven players on an 11 a side sized pitch.  A free kick could be awarded, to the opposing team, if the football is clearly kicked above shoulder height.  Yellow and red cards could be used to deter heading.  Also the goal posts could be changed to accommodate a game without heading; a new goal dimension of 1.5 metres, for the height, and 12 metres for the width could be appropriate.

A move towards a 'kick ball' only game; would be similar to the football that existed without heading in c1860.  The removal of heading from the game is about removing a feature of the game that should not have been present from the 1870's onwards.  The sport does not have to be too affected as playing the ball along the ground is a feature of Manchester City's tactics.  This does not affect their play as they are top of the English Premiership in November 2017. 


5:  Issues for the Government to Address

The case of mad cow disease, in the United Kingdom, provides an example of an industry which failed to regulate itself.  Earlier intervention was needed to address concerns over animal welfare and food safety.  There is a similar problem with football.  The number of cases of dementia in former footballers may suggest that the soccer industry has not maintained safety among its players.  This (potential) failure to provide a safe sport, is a public health issue and the basis for government intervention.  Only in 2017 did the football industry properly consider the risk to the brain from heading the ball.  


6:  The Aim of Possible Research


Government research on dementia is needed to understand the extent to which dementia is caused by sports; and how far dementia can be attributed to other causes.  The government needs to try and separate (1) the extent of dementia caused by brain injury from (2) the dementia caused by other factors such as diet and lifestyle (vascular dementia).  Prion disease (CJD), related to mad cow disease, could also be examined as a cause of dementia in the population.  A Royal Commission examining these wide ranging concerns is a relevant method of investigation.  A fully funded research programme is needed; to bring together evidence from around the world into the effects of impacts on the brain.  

7: Video - Football, Heading and Brain Injury: Time for Government Intervention

YouTube Video


PART 2) The Need to Reduce or Eliminate Heading as part of Football (Soccer)


This section provides further justification for state intervention as part of the professional game.


1:  American Football


The data on head injuries from American football may have implications for the regulation of British football.  Research has shown that up to 71% of players who have sustained concussions will develop CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Concussions can be defined as multiple mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs).  Another study examined the brains of 111 former American football players and found CTE in 110 of them.  A more general examination of the brains of former gridiron players found that nearly 90 percent showed signs of the disease.  It has been argued that ex-NFL American football players are more likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases compared to non-footballers.  Due to the effects of concussion in American football, then there is a need to examine the safety of English football or soccer.  Evidence from American football has been used to argue that heading in soccer should be discouraged


2:  English Football


The football industry should be concerned with brain injury possibly resulting from the game.  There are teams, of former footballers, where at least 3 out of the 11 players have dementia (27 percent); this compares with 1 in every 14 (7 percent) of the general population aged 65 years and over. Footballers need to be aware that the brain does not have the complete ability to mend itself; and that short term brain function can be affected by heading a football whether this is in a competitive game or in a practice session.  


3:  CTE and Motor Neurone Disease (MND)

The scientist, Bennet Omalu, argues that the football industry needs to be concerned with other possible types of brain injury apart from CTE.  There is a need to examine motor neurone disease too and whether this is partly caused by heading a football or head to head  soccer related collisions.  A Turin University study found that the risk of motor neurone disease was six times higher amongst former footballers compared with normal rates of the disease.  The possible link between football and motor neurone disease should have been thoroughly explored in 2003 after the deaths of former footballers from motor neurone disease.  These include the former Sunderland players Rob Hindmarch and Mel Holden and the Middlesborough player Willie Madren.  The former Hartlepool footballer Len Johnrose was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.  Therefore research needs to be undertaken to find out whether this disease was caused by playing football.  A correlation does not mean that there is causality but these cases merit further investigation in the context of the Turin research. 

4:  Lessons which Should have been Learnt

The possible links between heading and dementia could have been researched, thoroughly, after the death of Danny Blanchflower from Alzheimer's disease in 1993.  There have been numerous deaths from dementia many of which could be attributed to playing football and these deaths were overlooked in the past.  The soccer industry has known about the deaths of Danny Blanchflower from Alzheimer's in 1993, and Rob Hindmarch, from motor neurone disease in 2002; and this is before the clearest link between football and dementia with the death of Jeff Astle; again in 2002.  Extensive neurological research should already have been undertaken into football and brain injury.


5:  Newer Footballs: The Challenge of 'Brain Injury' Remains  

The former Ireland striker Kevin Doyle retired from football aged 34.  He wanted to avoid any long term health problems associated with heading as he has suffered from concussions as part of his career.  This case needs further examination because it could be the start of a trend of footballers needing to retire early; despite the newer and possibly lighter footballs which have been used in the 21st century. The number of 'aerial collisions', where footballers compete for the ball, could help explain the number of concussions and headaches in footballers.  These clashes occur regardless of the type of ball used.  A restriction on heading should reduce head on head player contact and head to elbow contact.  This is because footballers are not having to compete for the ball with their heads. 

A revised form of game should reduce the number of head collisions.  The football industry needs to be concerned about clashes of heads, or where a footballer elbows an opponent's head, given the possible increased risk of dementia in later life.


6:  The Link Between Football and Brain Injury


Scientists have yet to demonstrate definitive links between impacts to the brain and the development of dementiaHowever, in the most likely explanation for dementia, in former footballers, is playing the sport.  Evidence suggests that teams from the 1950s and 1960s have five or six players who have developed dementia.


7:  Conclusion:  Voluntary or Mandatory Regulation


If the risk of harm from heading and 'aerial collisions' is accepted then a decision is needed over the adoption of voluntary or state intervention.  The football industry could choose to introduce a 'kick ball' game where heading the football is penalised.  However, if the soccer industry continued with heading, as part of the game, then the government could announce additional taxation on the sport to encourage a rule change towards a non-heading game.  The government should intervene to try and reduce the level of brain injury in society.  Football could find itself in a similar situation to the 'mad cow disease' crisis of 1996; where the health minister announced a possible link between BSE and CJD.  In 1996, the UK government was obliged to introduce further measures to reduce the incidence of 'mad cow disease'.  

8:  Video on the Need to Reduce or Eliminate Heading as Part of Football


YouTube Video

PART 3) The Cost of Football, Heading and Brain Injury to Health Services


1:  Football, Heading and the Implications for Society


The costs to the National Health Service (NHS) are outside of the decisions made in the football industry regarding what is an acceptable level of 'footballer  safety'.  The football industry takes action to meet its own needs. It is now common practice, for a footballer with a head injury, after competing for a ball in 'the air', to be substituted.  However, this may not prevent long-term brain injury; particularly as a player could be passed fit to play again soon after the game.  There is still potentially a long-term impact on the health service; the footballer and his family.  This is a cost which can be overlooked by the industry.

A comparison can be made with smoking.  Smoking imposes costs on the NHS; as the NHS is expected to pay for the treatment costs of smoking related illnesses.  In comparison, the NHS will be expected to pay for the treatment and care costs of a retired footballer, if they develop dementia from playing football.

2:  A Solution to the Social Cost of Head Injury from Football


The welfare of the footballer has to take precedence over the needs of all the spectators who want to watch football.  The need to protect the brain of the sportsperson has to take precedence over the sport as a spectacle.  Players have the right to have their brains protected from damage.

The sport could significantly reduce the number of head injuries by reverting to the original Football Association rules of 1863 where the game was played without any heading of the football.  The heading of the ball only emerged 12 years later.  A nominal tax could be levied on football to encourage the sport to revert back to being played using the feet only.  This would be similar to taxation on cigarettes to reduce the incidence of smoking.  Such a tax could be removed if the game returned to the original rules.  However, if the industry were to ignore future cases of dementia among former footballers, then the level of taxation could be significantly increased.


The justification of this measure is that football needs to be treated in the same way as other sectors of the economy and society.  Industries which damage wider society need to have their activities corrected.  If a factory polluted a river and the water became polluted then government intervention would be expected.  Many former professional footballers have died prematurely from dementia and this could be attributed to heading a football.  The concern is not just over premature death but also the loss of quality of living in the later years of a player's life. The effects of playing football could be felt for decades after the end of a playing career.  The football field is the place of work for the footballer and the industry has a duty of care to protect players from unnecessary injury. It is unacceptable for a footballer to lose consciousness due to a 'clash of heads' when there are safer rules available which could avoid this outcome.  It is unacceptable for traumatic brain injuries to be considered as an occupational hazard.


3:  Conclusion: A Discussion on the Health Implications of Playing Football


Further research is needed into heading a football and the potential for long-term brain damage.  However, government action should be taken regardless of the need for additional investigation. The main reason for this is to avoid a clash of heads when footballers compete for the ball, in the air, particularly in and around the penalty box.  It should be possible to reduce the number of head injuries substantially although foot, ankle and leg injuries will remain.

The cardio-vascular benefit of playing football could lead to an individual living longer; but this benefit could be more than offset by the (possible) brain damage caused by heading a football.  A five-a-side or kick-ball game will have cardio-vascular benefits without the (possible) cognitive decline caused by heading.  The exercise benefits of football can still be achieved, with a 5-a side game, where the ball is played on the ground. 

4:  Video on the Cost of Football, Heading and Brain Injury to Health Services


YouTube Video

PART 4)  The Need for a Preventative Sport and Dementia Strategy


1: The Need for a Preventative Sport and Dementia Strategy 


In the 19th century a doctor, in London, made a hypothesis and was able to trace an outbreak of cholera back to a contaminated water pump.  The closure of this water pump led to the elimination of the source of the disease. The football industry could learn from this experience.  Action could be taken to reduce the level of dementia in former footballers.  A kick ball game could be introduced without any heading.  This measure could be introduced without a complete understanding of the relationship between playing football and  then suffering from dementia.   Preventative action can be taken without a full understanding of the scale of the health problem; as was the case with the reduction in cholera.  


Scientific research would help in understanding the possible link between football and dementia.  The government needs to fund studies to this effect.  There is already a parliamentary report  which examined sport and brain injury. A strategy now needs to be formulated to reduce the impact of sport on the brain.  A preventative approach is needed, so that action can be taken before the incidence of brain damage increases.  Such a pre-emptive strategy would be similar to policy advice to reduce flooding and anti bacterial resistance


2: A Preventative Decision-Making Approach 


A preventative approach would would aim to reduce the incidence of dementia, and the costs of dementia, among former sports people.  A government study would also examine what state interventions are needed to reduce the number of brain injuries.  This would entail an evaluation of different policy options such as outright prohibition, taxation or a softer marketing approach; where the risk of heading is communicated to a footballer.  

PART 5)  Football and Heading: The Need to Resolve Conflicts of Interest 


1:  Conflicts of Interest: The Case for State Intervention in Football


The possible link between football (heading) and dementia was discussed in 1995.  The former Ireland striker Tony Cascarino stated that: "even if there was proof (of a link) I doubt if it would make much difference. It's a risk people are prepared to take.  They think of their careers and carry on taking the money".  This statement provides a justification for government intervention.   If the footballer is unwilling to protect themselves, then the state needs to interfere to protect the player, the player's family and the wider society.  This involvement needs to happen even though the link between heading a football and dementia is not fully understood.

The scientist, Michael Grey states that "football is the only sport where the head is used as an instrument to hit the ball".  This is a crucial point made in the Alan Shearer documentary (see 11:50).  The player's head is being used like a cricket bat or tennis racket to  control or direct the ball.  This is relevant given that the human brain is a very delicate fragile structure, with the consistency of jelly.  Arguably, decisions, regarding the rules of football, should be evidence based.  However, further proof is not required, to stop the head from being used as a sporting instrument.  The government should intervene to discourage the skull from being used as a tool to move a football.  The consequences of dementia can be so severe that additional taxation should be applied to the football industry.

2:  Bias and Optimism in the Football Industry


Another concern is that prioritising a football career may lead to a bias in favour of optimism.  For example, a player suggested that "these days the balls are a lot softer and a lot better".  This statement may be true but scientific concerns remain.  The brain injury risk may be no lower now than in the past.  The newer balls still transfer a significant amount of energy to the head and the brain. The footballer's optimism provides another reason for government intervention.  The state needs to make sure that a footballer is not damaging their brain and under-playing the risk to themselves.


PART 6)  An Examination of Former Soccer Players with Cognitive Decline  


1:  Discussion on Footballers with Dementia


The list (in part 7) provides a record of former UK footballers who have suffered from dementia.  It is similar to a list of American footballers who have experienced CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). The list covers a range of different types of dementia which include Alzheimer's diseaseCTEvascular dementiaLewy body and pick disease.  The list is a basic one which covers many famous players, from the past, who played for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Players include Tottenham's Dave MackayPeter Baker and Ron Henry.  Other prominent players who have been included are Ron YeatsJohn McNamee and Joe Mercer.

One of the complexities when compiling the record was to decide which players to include.  Jack Charlton has been incorporated because it was revealed that he suffers from severe memory loss.  Frank Worthington has also been included, on the basis of memory loss, although this diagnosis has been denied.  Mike Sutton's case has only recently been discussed and has been put on the list.  Chris Nicholl has bravely spoken about the challenges he faces; but there was not a formal diagnosis in 2017, so he is not on the register.  However, the length of Chris Nicholl's career is interesting as he played for 19 years from 1965-1984.  His central playing position is also relevant, as defenders had to block many shots with headers and so his risk could be greater than a winger on the edge of the pitch. 

The record is not comprehensive as it does not cover less well known professional players or amateur footballers.  The list is only based on publicly available sources which are easily accessible on the internet.


2:  Research on the link between football (heading) and dementia: A Cross-Table


Research could be undertaken to examine the link between playing football and dementia with the construction of a cross-table.  A  sample of 2,000 people could be taken of 1,000 footballers and 1,000 non-footballers.  The researcher would then seek to find out how many of those football players and non-players did or did not have dementia.  This is shown in the table below.


3:  Cross-Table to examine footballers, non-footballers, dementia and non-dementia



Footballer (age 65-95)

Non-Footballer    (age 65-95)

Cases with Dementia



Cases of Non-Dementia






This is a simple table, although, it is complicated by how a researcher would determine whether a footballer has dementia or not; as discussed in section 6.1.  Careful consideration would need to be given to how the age group is specified.  So, the footballer group would need to be males aged between 65 and 95; and the same for the non-playing group.  The proportions within this 30 year age group would have to be consistent across the two groups.


The table could be elaborated upon by dividing the 'footballer category' into three different sets: professional footballer, amateur footballer and non-footballer.


Professional Footballer  (age 65-95)

Amateur Footballer  (age 65-95)

Non-footballer  (age 65-95)


4:  Research on the link between football (heading) and dementia


More sophisticated statistical research is needed.  It would be necessary to categorise a footballer by (1) the position played or (2) the length of his career.  Therefore, it could be possible to link the footballer to dementia as follows:

(1)  The possible link between position played > and dementia

(2)  The possible link between the length of career > and dementia


It would also be possible to separate the 'generic label' of dementia into different categories of the disease.  This was discussed in section 6.1. and so could examine: 


(1a)  The possible link between position played > and Alzheimer's disease.

(1b)  The possible link between position played > and Pick's disease (a type of dementia).


5:  Method for Measuring the Length of the Player's Career


The length of the footballer's career was found, in part 7, by taking the last year of the career (where games were played) and then subtracting the first year of the career.  For example, 1966-1950=16.  However, information can be missing, especially, with games played in the non-league after the end of the player's formal career. 


6:  The Age of the Footballer when they died


The age of the footballer when they died after suffering from dementia is commonly available.  The age of death could be of interest to a statistician who is trying to explore the possible link between football and dementia.  This is because an earlier death could indicate a more serious case of dementia.  


7:  A Conclusion


The table below shows that over 80 footballers have developed dementia after playing the sport.  It is interesting that about half of the dementia cases were labelled as Alzheimer's disease.  There are  a significant number of former players who had Alzheimer's in their 80's.  The large number of cases of cognitive deterioration, among former players over 80, can be compared with the 17 per cent of people who have dementia over the age of 80.  In 2017,  there were enough examples of dementia to justify a full scale study at Glasgow University. 

PART 7)  A List of Former UK Footballers Who Have Suffered From Dementia 

1:  Conventional Dementia

Surname First Name Playing Position Length of  Senior Career in years Type of Dementia  (including memory loss)

Allen Ronnie centre forward  19 Alzheimer
Allison Malcolm centre half 17 ?
Aldis Peter defender 11 ?
Astle Jeff striker 18 CTE
Baker Peter right back 15 Alzheimer
Bell Eric wing-half 8 Alzheimer
Bicknell Roy defender 9 Alzheimer + Parkinson's
Blanchflower Danny right half 18 Alzheimer
full back
Broadbent Peter midfielder 21 Alzheimer
Brooks Johnny inside forward 19 Vascular Dementia
Buchanan Cameron inside forward 15 ?
Byrne John forward (b. 1934) ? Dementia + Parkinson's
Byrne  Gerry left back 12 Alzheimer
Calderwood Jimmy midfielder 17 ?
Chalmers Stevie centre forward /outside right 19 ?
Charles John centre forward  22 ?
Charlton Jack centre half 21 memory loss
Clark Brian striker 19 Lewy body
Conway Jimmy midfielder 18 ?
Corbett Willie centre half 12 ?
Crowe Charlie defender 13 Alzheimer
Cullis Stan  centre half 13 ?
Davies  Ron full back 15 Alzheimer
Dixon Johnny Inside forward 16 Alzheimer
Dougall Neil  inside right 19 Alzheimer
Elsworthy  John left-half 16 Alzheimer
Feasey Paul centre half 17 ?
Fernie  Willie forward 16 Alzheimer
Forbes Duncan central defender 16 Alzheimer
Foulkes Bill centre half 19 Alzheimer ?
Furphy Ken defender 18 ?
Hails Billy ? 8 Alzheimer
Henry Ron left back 14 Alzheimer
Hill Jimmy inside right 12 Alzheimer
Ernie          (Roger Patrick)
Inside forward
Inside forward

Jarvis Alan ? 10 CTE
King George forward 8 Alzheimer
Kopel Frank left back 18 Vascular Dementia
Lofthouse Nat centre forward 14 ?
Lynn Stan  right back 19 Alzheimer
MacKay Dave left half 19 Alzheimer
McEwan Jimmy right wing 20 ?






Alzheimer (The Times' obituary minimises the link with heading)
McNamee John  defender 16 Alzheimer
McNeil Billy defender 18 ?



centre forward



McShane Harry  outside left 18 Alzheimer
Mercer Joe left half 23 ?
Moore Kevin defender 20 Picks
Mortensen Stan  centre forward 18 ?
Moss Ernie forward 20 Picks
Musgrove Malcolm left wing 13 Alzheimer
Paisley Bob left half 15 Alzheimer
Parkinson’s and dementia
Pontin Keith central defender 25  
Ramsey Alf right back 12 Alzheimer
Reid Jimmy inside forward 7 ?
Ritchie John forward 15 Alzheimer
Saward Pat defender 12 Alzheimer
Serella Dave central defender 14 CTE
inside forward
inside forward
Smith Les outside left 17 Alzheimer
Smith Tommy defender 17 ?
Sowden Billy centre forward  12 ?
Stevenson Jim  centre half ? Alzheimer
Stiles Nobby defender / midfielder 15 ?
Stobart Barry forward 15 Vascular Dementia
Strong Geoff  inside forward,  17 Alzheimer
Stroud Roy outside right ? ?
Sutton Mike midfielder 10 ?
Tees Matt forward 15 ?
Tindall Mike wing-half 11  
Twentyman Geoff  central defender 17 Alzheimer
Turner Chris defender 15 frontal lobe
Walk Joe left back 16 Alzheimer ?
Wilson Ray left back 19 Alzheimer
Wood Brian central defender 18 Dementia + Parkinson's
Worthington Frank forward 25 Alzheimer (contested
Yeats Ron centre half 20 ?
Young Allan  centre half 13 ?

2:  Motor Neurone Disease

A List of Former UK Footballers Who Have Suffered From Motor Neurone Disease (MND)


This is a list of former footballers who have suffered from motor neurone disease (MND) or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  This disorder has been linked to brain injury and the disease has been associated with heading a football.  The risk to footballers of MND appears to be higher than in the general population. It is interesting that Lee Bertie (listed below) feared that playing football gave him motor neurone disease

The figure in brackets refers to the age of the footballer when they died.

Surname First Name Playing Position   Length of Senior Career      in years Type of Disease
(Motor Neurone Disease)







Centre Half

Centre Half


        ?    (39)                       

        17  (65)  
        7   (58)

Hindmarch  Rob Central Defender        14  (41)
Holden  Mel Forward         7   (26)

        12 (42)        

Johnstone  Jimmy Outside right         10 (61)
Leighton  Tony Striker         14 (38)
Maddren  Willie  Defender         10 (49)



Left back

Centre Forward
        16 (43)

        18 (61)

Turner  Gordon Forward         15 (46)

Darby          Stephen  Right back              10



3:  International Footballers Who Have Suffered From Dementia

The former German international footballer Gerd Müller is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.   The Hungarian footballer, Ferenc Puskás, also died after suffering from Alzheimer's.  The death of Hilderaldo Bellini, a former Brazilian defender, is significant because he was posthumously diagnosed with CTE.  This is similar to the case of Jeff Astle whose brain was re-examined and found to show signs of CTE.

4:  International Footballers Who Have Suffered From Motor Neurone Disease

There have been cases of MND, in Italy, with the deaths of Stefano Borgonovo, Gianluca Signorini and Adriano Lombardi.

5:  A Disclaimer


Time has been spent to try and make sure that the information presented is accurate.  The reader is advised to conduct their own research if they want more 

detailed information and analysis.