Former Scotland defender Gordon McQueen has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, his family have announced.
The 68-year-old, who played for St Mirren, Leeds and Manchester United, was confirmed as having the condition last month.
His family said that he wanted to warn current players that there “may be risks with persistent heading of the ball”.
They said: “Dad scored some important goals in his career and memorable headers but used to stay back in training, heading the ball to the goalkeeper for practice over and over.
“He does wonder if this has been a factor in his dementia as his symptoms appeared in his mid-60s.”
The statement was released by McQueen’s wife Yvonne, daughters Hayley and Anna and son Edward.
“As a family we felt it was important to let people know, particularly if raising awareness can help others in similar situations,” it said.
“Whilst as a family we’ve found it hard to come to terms with the changes in dad, he has no regrets about his career and has lived life to the full.
“He had unforgettable experiences in his playing days with Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United, and also took so much from his coaching and TV work in more recent times.
“Football has allowed him to travel the world and experience things he could only have dreamed of.”
Heartbreaking not to be spending precious time with dad of late but trying to stay positive & also raise awareness about vascular dementia as a family. It’s a cruel disease but had plenty help recently from both @PFA & @FA 💔Thank you for the messages of support on here already https://t.co/fPhVEXJN0b pic.twitter.com/lmV1TGZknG
— HAYLEY MCQUEEN (@HayleyMcQueen) February 23, 2021
McQueen started his career at St Mirren before moving to Elland Road in 1972, winning the First Division two years later and playing an important role in their run to the 1975 European Cup final.
McQueen went onto enjoy a successful time with Manchester United and represented Scotland on 30 occasions, scoring five goals.
Having managed Airdrie during a coaching career that included time at Middlesbrough, the ex-centre-back went onto become a popular TV pundit with Sky Sports.
McQueen’s family said that the past year of lockdowns has been tough on him, as a “sociable person who thrives off company.”
Giving an update on his present condition, they said he is fully aware of his friends and family and his memory of all things football is sharp, but his cognitive functions are not the same.
The statement added: “We don’t want people to be surprised by his condition or continue to ask him for media interviews or autographs which he is not able to do any more.
“Whilst he is looking forward to seeing people again after lockdown and getting the social aspect of life back, we know people will see a big difference in his health so wanted to be transparent.
“We thank everyone in advance for their understanding and hope sharing this news will help dad to face the future in a positive way.”
McQueen’s former Leeds team-mate Jack Charlton died with dementia last year and it was confirmed in recent months that Sir Bobby Charlton has been diagnosed with the disease.
The brothers’ 1966 World Cup-winning team-mate Nobby Stiles died with dementia last year.
The Football Association is currently supporting two independently led research studies examining former professional players for early signs of neurocognitive degeneration.
The FOCUS study by the University of Nottingham is being funded by the FA and Professional Footballers’ Association, while the HEADING study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is being funded by the Drake Foundation.
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