Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and dementia’s worrying frequency amongst former players – Man United News And Transfer News

Sir Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles are only two of the many ex-footballers who have had to deal with dementia in the latter years of their life. It has also been reported that football’s governing bodies are not providing enough support to former players and their families in these challenging times.

The Times interviewed the late Nobby Stiles’ son, John Stiles, and he gave a damning assessment of how footballing authorities are dealing with the problem of dementia in footballers. The issue has come even more to light with the funeral of Sir Bobby Charlton today, who died whilst suffering from dementia.

The article opens by highlighting the scary statistic that footballers are four times as likely to develop dementia as the populace as a whole.

Stiles’ son exclaimed that it is a “national scandal” that the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is not doing enough to support former players suffering the “scourge” of dementia.

Nobby, his father, died on 30th October 2020 and just two days later, the Charlton family announced that his former United and England teammate, Bobby Charlton, was also suffering from the same disease.

John claims that he “naively” believed that with two such famous names having suffered from the issue, more would be done.

This has unfortunately not been the case. The article states that five of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team have died suffering from the disease: Jack Charlton, Ray Wilson, Martin Peters, Stiles and now Sir Bobby. “Our greatest team has been let down,” John says. “Across the country, everybody’s heroes are being let down, every club where they’ve had heading the ball in training they will get this disease.”

Due to the failure of the footballing authorities to adequately address the issue, John feels that he cannot say no to giving talks at clubs about the dangers of heading. The son of the World Cup winner claimed that he owes it to his father to make the game “wake up and tackle dementia and its impact on families properly”.

John Stiles also revealed in The Times article that the family had donated his father’s brain to science. They discovered that his brain had been riddled with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The son of the European Cup winner of 1968 claims that this is undeniably connected to repeatedly heading a ball.

The real damage is not during matches though. Stiles claims that his father would probably have only headed the ball ten times in a game. However, the real harm stems from training. He explains that his dad would practise heading three times a week. Therefore, he probably would have headed a ball a staggering 70,000-100,000 times during his career.

Stiles has called out the football authorities on two accounts. The first is that he believes families are being let down financially. He argues that in a sport that generates so much money, very little is being given to help with the economic burden of the long-term care needed for dementia sufferers.

He asserts that the “pathetic” fund of £1 million won’t even cover 12 footballers’ care. He bemoaned the situation claiming “it’s an insult to my dad and all the other players who have died with virtually no help. They should create a proper fund that does take care of long-term residential care costs”.

Stiles also claims it is not only the household names, but there are many ex-players suffering that the media has no clue about. He referenced a talk he did at Rotherham Football Club recently, where he heard stories of their former players suffering dementia. He chillingly states, “everybody is watching their own heroes disappear.”

The second critique laid at the feet of the PFA is the lack of education. Stiles predicted that not only kids but even global stars like Harry Kane or Lucy Bronze won’t know what CTE is. Although heading has been banned in under-12 training, it is still prolific in older categories and in professional football matches, not to mention training. As Stiles puts it, we have a “massive ticking timebomb on its way”.

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