England boss Southgate opens up on dementia concerns

In all, five of England’s 1966 World Cup winners have been diagnosed with the condition, with the late Jack Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson having also suffered.

Last year, research conducted by the University of Glasgow found that former professional footballers had an “approximately three and a half times higher rate of death due to neurodegenerative disease than expected”.

The Football Association (FA) also released guidelines earlier this year stating that children aged 11 and under will no longer participate in heading training.

Addressing the issue on Wednesday, Southgate, 50, admitted he does have worries regarding dementia after his own lengthy playing career.

“Of course, at my age, having headed a lot of footballs, I do have concerns,” he said at a pre-match press conference ahead of Thursday’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley.

“But I also recognised that whenever I took the field I was taking that risk of injury, short or long term and I knew that, and I would always had wanted to have the career and the opportunity to play, even if it meant longer-term that there might be physical issues for myself or health issues.

“Most athletes would go that way, I think. That’s not to undermine the situation, by the way. 


Gareth Southgate has concerns over dementia having headed plenty of footballs during his lengthy playing career

/ AFP via Getty Images )

“In terms of the link, there is research going on. That’s a little bit inconclusive at the moment, which is a bit frustrating for everybody because we’d love to have a clear solution. And so of course it’s a concern for everybody and we have to keep supporting that research.  

“Part of the issue with dementia is age and one of the positives of being involved in sport is that people tend to live longer, they’re healthier, they live longer. And so there’s a possibility that that could be part of the link with the dementia as well.  

“Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers we’d like at the moment. I know some of that work is going on in the background. But yes, do I have concerns? Of course I do. I’ve had people in my own family who’ve suffered with dementia and it’s a terrible, terrible illness.” 

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