Former Man United, Leeds and Scotland defender Gordon McQueen diagnosed with vascular dementia

Former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds defender Gordon McQueen has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, his family have confirmed.

The 68-year-old 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.

Gordon McQueen’s family have revealed he was diagnosed with vascular dementia in January

The ex-Scotland international wants today’s players to be aware of the risks involved in football

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.

A statement released by his wife Yvonne, daughters Hayley and Anna and son Edward said: ‘In January, Gordon McQueen, our dad, was formally diagnosed with vascular dementia.

‘As a family we felt it was important to let people know, particularly if raising awareness can help others in similar situations.

McQueen enjoyed successful playing days with Manchester United, Leeds and Scotland and has most recently worked as a TV pundit

‘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.

‘But he wants other footballers of today’s generation to know there may be risks with persistent heading of the ball.

‘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 last year in and out of lockdown has been tough as dad is such a sociable person and thrives off company.

‘Social interaction is key for someone with dementia and he has been deprived of this for so long. He is fully aware of his friends and family still and his memory of all things football is sharp, but his cognitive functions are not the same.

‘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.

In a statement on Tuesday, his family said he ‘wants other footballers of today’s generation to know there may be risks with persistent heading of the ball’

Hayley McQueen told of her heartbreak at her dad’s dementia diagnosis last month

‘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.’

His daughter, Hayley, who works as a presenter for Sky Sports, took to Twitter on Tuesday to reveal her heartbreak.

She wrote: ‘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.’

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. 

Nobby Stiles (right) suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia before his death at 78. His fellow World Cup winners Sir Bobby Charlton (left) and the late Jack Charlton (centre) have also lived with dementia, along with a number of former professional footballers

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.

Sportsmail launched a campaign to tackle dementia last November and it has received huge backing from former footballers, as well as MPs.

It was recently confirmed that the FA and PFA are to commission new studies into what causes the increased risk of dementia among footballers.

In another victory for Sportsmail’s campaign to tackle dementia, the two bodies have announced they will jointly fund research to follow the 2019 FIELD project, which found ex-footballers to be three and a half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative diseases than the general population. 

The FA and PFA are seeking applications from researchers to answer the question: what is the cause of the observed increased risk of death from neurodegenerative disorders in former professional footballers found in the FIELD study?

Any findings could be used to help set the guidelines for restrictions on heading in professional training in England — which is currently being worked on by a taskforce of governing bodies.

Sportsmail’s dementia campaign was launched last November and has received backing from former footballers, as well as MPs

Furthermore, Sportsmail also recently revealed that Manchester City are in talks  over a landmark study into football’s relationship with heading that would see players trial a mouthguard to measure the impact on their brains.

The PROTECHT gumshield can provide live data on head trauma suffered during training and matches. It is already in use at Premiership rugby clubs, boxing and mixed martial arts.

And following Sportsmail’s campaign, football has moved to incorporate the technology.

It is understood the Premier League, FA, EFL, Women’s Super League, Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers Association have agreed to the pilot and talks are taking place over which Premier League club will be part of the trial.

It is believed a number have expressed interest, but City are in pole position. Though nothing has been agreed, the Premier League have held preliminary talks with City’s academy as the Etihad Campus, which also houses Pep Guardiola’s first team and the women’s team, could allow researchers to test players from different levels in one location.

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