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Nobby Stiles: Family Says Football ‘Must Address Scandal Of Dementia’ Affecting Former Players

November 18, 2020

The family of 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles says football needs to “address the scandal” of dementia in the game.

And they criticised the Professional Footballers’ Association, saying there had been a lack of support for players.

The ex-Manchester United and England midfielder died in October, aged 78. He had dementia and prostate cancer.

Stiles is the fifth member of England’s World Cup-winning squad to have been diagnosed with dementia.

Previous research has shown that ex-footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population.

In a statement paying tribute to their pride of “what he achieved but more importantly, the man he was”, the family said: “There is a need for urgent action.

“These older players have largely been forgotten and many are in ill health, like dad.

“How can it be that these players are left needing help when their own union has tens of millions of pounds available today?

“How can it be that these players struggling when the Premier League receives £3bn a year? The modern player will never need the help required by the older lads. How can it be right that some of the heroes of 1966 had to sell their medals to provide for the families?

“These older players are dying like my dad. Many don’t have medals to sell. It is right, of course to seek to identify the cause of dementia in older players but in truth the cause is irrelevant to the older players. Whatever the cause they need help now. I hope dad’s death is the catalyst for this scandal to be addressed.”

Stiles made 397 appearances for Manchester United between 1960 and 1971, later going on to play for Middlesbrough and Preston North End.

He won 28 caps for England and is the seventh member of the England team that started the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany to die, after captain Bobby Moore, Alan Ball, Ray Wilson, Gordon Banks, Martin Peters and Jack Charlton.

He had a minor stroke in 2010, and was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer.

In a BBC documentary screened in 2017, Stiles’ son John told former England captain Alan Shearer he was “utterly convinced” heading a football was responsible for his father’s dementia.

BBC Sport has contacted the PFA for comment.

In a statement, the Football Association said: “We continue to work closely with the Alzheimer’s Society and, alongside other sport governing bodies, we are pleased to be a part of their Sport United Against Dementia campaign to help raise awareness and gain support for their valuable work.

“Collaboration across football’s governing bodies is key in order to better understand this important issue collectively, and we firmly believe that all areas of football should come together for this meaningful cause.”

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