Liverpool legend Terry McDermott discloses devastating dementia diagnosis


McDermott, determined to carry on working at Anfield, won three European Cups and landed five league titles as a cornerstone of Liverpool’s successes in the 70s and 80s, before enjoying a highly successful coaching career

Terry McDermott with the PFA Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year trophies in 1980

Terry McDermott who won three European Cups and five league titles for Liverpool is the latest football star to be diagnosed with dementia.

The Kop hero whose all action midfield style is still revered on Merseyside discovered that he is in the early stages of Lewy Body dementia after undergoing a number of tests.

His revelation that he is battling against the degenerative disease comes just days after Manchester United ’s Denis Law admitted that he has Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

But McDermott is determined to carry on with his work as a Liverpool match day host and has already had numerous messages of support from former Anfield team-mates, some of whom have their own private health issues.

He was on duty for yesterday’s game against Burnley while Liverpool football club will also offer their help if it is needed as football comes to terms with another grim legacy of a star studded career.

A generation of past greats including England World Cup winners Sir Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton and Martin Peters have all been diagnosed with dementia, the last three having all passed away.

McDermott first feared he had a problem during a talk-in with his great mate and former Newcastle United and England manager Kevin Keegan.

“We were on stage and Kevin was telling a story and handed over to me to finish it off,” he explained. “My mind went blank and I said I couldn’t remember what had happened next. The audience started laughing thinking it was part of the act.

“Kevin saved the situation by taking the micky out of me and continuing himself with the tale but it left me worrying that something wasn’t right. There were a few other instances where I struggled to explain things.”

McDermott is also an icon at Newcastle United


Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Urged by his wife Carole to undergo an examination McDermott, recently dubbed one of Liverpool’s greatest ever midfielders by Graeme Souness, discovered he had the early stages of Lewy Body dementia which leads to a decline in thinking and reasoning.

Carole added: “It’s not always about forgetting things or not knowing where he is going, it’s more about him getting confused and not explaining properly what he wants to say.

“He also worries more. Years ago he didn’t worry about a thing. That’s all part of his condition. He can get anxious about stupid things.”

Terry wonders whether countless games of head tennis with Keegan during their time together as manager and assistant at Newcastle in the 1990s has contributed to his condition.

He said: “Kevin and I used to play head tennis for instance every day after training. H

“aving said that most of the players also took part and to my knowledge none of that Newcastle team has been affected so who knows?

“I’ve got to get on with it and I will. It’s the way I’ve been brought up. Nothing has come to me easily. I’m not frightened of taking it on and also as we’ve seen there are a lot of former players in a worse state than me.

Liverpool players Jimmy Case (l) and Terry McDermott celebrate after their European Cup win in Rome in 1977


Getty Images)

“Battling is second nature. The worst thing was until my condition was diagnosed you don’t know what’s going on.

The number of ex-players being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimers is frightening.”

The news of his condition will shock many in the game who marvelled at his stamina and fitness in the engine room of a Liverpool side who in the seventies plundered the silverware.

Many Liverpool fans believe that his headed goal following a breath taking move in the 7-0 thumping of Spurs in 1978 was the club’s greatest ever.

But with the growing belief that hours of heading a football can impact on a player’s brain and induce dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, English football has this season introduced new regulations.

Professional players are now limited to 10 ‘higher force’ headers (aerial balls from more than 35 yards) a week during training. The PFA are backing research into why footballers are more than three times likely to develop dementia.

McDermott believes being around Anfield on match days will help him confront his condition. “I’ve been looking forward to going down to Anfield and seeing the lads (former team-mates) people I have known for years and having a good craic with them, “he admitted.

“Thankfully there are games coming up regularly now which I can go to.”

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