Act to save our heroes! Calls for football to do more to help ex-stars

Act to save our heroes! The death of legendary England midfielder Nobby Stiles prompts new demand for football to do more to tackle dementia after four of the World Cup winning side suffered from brain disease

  • Legendary England star Nobby Stiles died at the age of 78 from Alzheimer’s   
  • His death led to just four surviving members of the 1966 World Cup winning side 
  • There have been calls for more support in football to help tackle dementia 

Football must heed the lessons learned by the deaths of four of Sir Alf Ramsey’s World Cup winners to brain disease and take action within the lifetime of the four surviving members of the team, campaigner Dawn Astle insisted on Saturday night.

After Nobby Stiles followed Martin Peters, Jack Charlton and Ray Wilson as players to have died since 2018 after living with dementia, Astle said that Britain still does too little to limit children’s exposure to unnecessary heading.

‘It is too late to help Nobby but we can take this issue seriously in the lifetimes of the players who are still with us,’ said Astle, daughter of West Bromwich Albion forward Jeff Astle, whose neuro-degeneration was found in 2002 to have been caused by blows sustained to his head in football.

The iconic Three Lions star (R) passed away on Friday after years of battling with Alzheimer’s

There have been calls for football to do more to help tackle dementia after studies showed heading increase a risk of brain diseases among former footballers

Astle has urged FA chairman Greg Clarke to go beyond guidelines about heading in youth football, issued eight months ago. However, the FA can only advise, not put rules on training in place, despite a study showing an increase in the risk of brain diseases among former footballers.

Astle said: ‘We are ten or 15 years behind the US. We are not asking for the world. We don’t want to ban heading. We just want a few small steps to mitigate the risk. 

‘The only club to have acted on the research showing the link has been Bournemouth, who introduced a heading ban for young players. That shows it can be done.’ 

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