Cut headers in training urges the daughter of football legend

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The 69-year-old Scotland international – whose clubs included Man Utd, Leeds and St Mirren – is battling vascular dementia. Gordon’s family believe years of heading balls during a career in which he won 30 caps for his country led to the illness.

Now his Sky Sports presenter daughter Hayley says it has left her dad struggling to eat, though he can still recognise his family.

And she is campaigning for UK-wide rule changes to protect the health of footballers.

The 42-year-old said: “This isn’t accidental, players are heading balls over and over again. We now know this causes brain damage.

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“If you tell a footballer earning millions of pounds, that by your 50s or 60s you won’t be able to live your life and spend the money you’ve earned, they’ll cut down the number of times they head the ball or change the way they train.

“There needs to be a law that in training, you can only head the ball a certain number of times.”

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The Scottish Football Association last year banned heading for primary pupils, after a Glasgow University study found explayers were almost four times more likely to develop neurological disease than normal.

The risk to ex-defenders was found to be around five times normal.

Hayley – an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador – said virtual reality technology could replace heading in training.

She added: “There’s a headset that simulates heading. So, whilst you’ll have a ball coming at you, you’re not actually heading it.”

McQueen’s former Leeds teammate Jack Charlton died aged 85 with the condition last year. And in recent years, Man Utd legends Sir Bobby Charlton, 84, and Denis Law, 81, were diagnosed with dementia.

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