Dementia & football: PFA tells Alan Shearer it is unsure on numbers

Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor says he does not know how many of its 50,000 members have dementia.

Taylor was talking in a BBC documentary in which former England captain Alan Shearer investigates the link between the disease and heading footballs.

The PFA and the Football Association have pledged to fund research and support former players with dementia.

“At least now people have started to look for answers,” Shearer said.

“Nowhere near enough research has been done so far. For too long it has been swept under the carpet, which is why so many people are angry – and rightly so.

“But even before we have findings, football must look after old players with dementia and put an end to this sense that once you are done with playing you are put on the scrapheap. People still have a life to lead.

“There are 850,000 people in the United Kingdom suffering from dementia and there are a lot of footballers in those numbers.

“But the reality is, and the sad thing is, we don’t know how many and that can’t be right.”

Alan Shearer had a series of tests at Stirling University immediately before and after taking part in heading drills

First link to dementia was made 15 years ago

The link between heading the ball and dementia was first made in 2002 during the inquest into the death of former West Brom and England striker Jeff Astle.

Astle died from dementia aged 59 and the coroner who found signs of brain injury – called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)