As a result of widespread diagnoses of dementia and deaths among his teammates who won the 1966 World Cup, Sir Geoff Hurst said he backed a ban on children heading soccer balls.
The disease was diagnosed with Sir Bobby Charlton, his brother Jack, Ray Wilson, Martin Peters, and Nobby Stiles, and in the past two and a half years all of Jack Charlton, Wilson, Peters, and Stiles died.
Jeff Astle, a former England and West Brom striker, died in 2002 at the age of 59 due to repeated heading football trauma, identified by a coroner as a ‘industrial accident.’
Billy McNeill, a Celtic legend, is among the former Scottish players who have succumbed to the disease.
A landmark study released last year by the University of Glasgow found that, relative to the general population, footballers had a substantially elevated risk of developing a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.
Scottish dementia experts hail ‘exciting’ groundbreaking studies in the treatment of Alzheimer’s
The retired footballer claimed that after his death, he would be “absolutely” willing to donate his brain to dementia study.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Sir Geoff, 78, said he believes that routine head ball play and preparation at the time led to the eventual development of Alzheimer’s for a significant number of players from that period.
A whole group of people seem to be suffering from it, he told the newspaper. I recall my training days at West Ham, we had a ball hanging from the ceiling and we had to lead it for 20 minutes.
The Scottish region is considered one of the best dementia care areas in the world.
“Then we played headed tennis in the gym, and when we trained on the field we practiced headers near the post and far away, and you could head 20 or 30 balls in half an hour.”
Sir Geoff said that “would be a very strong and sensible suggestion.”
“He added: “I think it is important to consider a prohibition at that young age, when the brain is not yet mature.
“I don’t think it would destroy the enjoyment of children’s soccer or grassroots soccer.”
For persons with dementia, the group promotes better management, care and financial support.