FA research shows footballers three times more likely to die of dementia


Former professional footballers, born between 1900 and 1976 are three times as likely to die from dementia than people of the same age, according to a study.

Glasgow University experts have been looking into research for years surrounding the taboo topic, especially in regards the damage that heading a ball can do.

The first study came about after the death of ex-West Brom forward Jeff Astle, who died in 2002 after suffering from a brain condition.

The deaths of near 8,000 former football stars were compared with that of more than three times the population of non-footballers.

The study also found, however, that the lifespan of those who played the sport was increased.

Dr Willie Stewart led the investigation, which began over 18 months ago and it was funded by the FA and the PFA, who have been campaigning for the study for a significant period of time.

Astle’s family originally became frustrated after delays to the findings being released.

Astle died aged 59 with dementia and was later judged to have suffered from heading leather balls for most of the 20th century while playing football.

‘Technical flaws’, however, originally stopped the appropriate research into his death, despite the urges of Astle’s family.

But after campaigning, the study was picked up against and Astle’s daughter Dawn spoke of her relief that an investigation was launched.

Astle’s case was one of the main talking points of Alan Shearer’s BBC documentary which aired earlier this year, Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me.

Concussion in sport has long been a talked about subject, particularly in boxing, MMA and American Football.

Players who take blows to the head during football games are now usually subject to extra care and attention.

The usual protocol should be for the player to be subbed off the pitched if he’s deemed to have taken a big blow to the skull.

Former Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason had his career ended after fracturing his skull in a collision with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.

Just last season, Spurs player Jan Vertonghen was brought off the pitch after being knocked near-unconscious during his side’s Champions League tie with Ajax.


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