Jack Charlton, Leeds United & England, R.I.P.

I found today's news as especially sad, not just because I was a Leeds fan when the young Jack was playing for 2nd division Leeds United (while younger brother 'our kid' Bobby played for 1st division Manchester United), but because this talented player (and manager) appears to have been yet another victim of dementia caused by heading footballs

In 2017, a BBC TV documentary Dementia, Football and Me (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/41902953) presented by Alan Shearer looked at the impact of heading footballs on the brain - and ultimately on players developing dementia. When watching Shearer heading a ball numerous times, I thought it all very well, but when people quite a lot older than him played football, the balls were made of leather, which meant that they got extremely heavy in wet weather (i.e. for most of the football season).

What 's so depressing about the death of Jack Charlton is that he's by no means the only one of the 1966 team to have suffered from dementia. He lasted until he was 83, as did Ray Wilson who also died of it. Martin Peters succombed to it at 76, while manager and former full-back Sir Alf Ramsey died of it at 79. Nobby Stiles (78) is still alive but has advanced dementia.

This adds up to 42% of those directly involved in our winning the world-cup in 1966 falling victim to dementia. I'm hopeless at statistics, but would say that this must surely be statistically very significant.

(An excellent film about Jack Charlton from today's BBC archive can be seen at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/53373542).





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