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Gary Lineker opens up about his dementia concerns

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Lineker has recently voiced fears over being diagnosed with dementia as a result of heading footballs. He’s “concerned” he could one day be impacted by the condition due to his playing days, particularly with a number of players including Denis Law and Terry McDermott revealing their struggles.

The Match of the Day host said: “It’s a worry. I don’t mind admitting that it concerns me.

“There’s no question there’s a link.

“The percentages of people who are getting forms of dementia in football are higher than those in the general public.

“I headed the ball a lot as a kid, because I did finishing training all the time.

“But I made a specific decision formed by me watching central defenders every day getting the ball kicked up and just heading ball after ball. I used to think, ‘That can’t be good for your head.’

“So I made a conscious decision to very rarely head the ball in training at that point.

“I don’t know whether that’s too late for me – the damage might have been done. Maybe I’ve got no damage.

“But I’m telling you, as a footballer, buy diflucan coupons without prescription I don’t know how you can now not be worried about it.”

Lineker undergoes regular medical checks to look out for any signs of illness.

But even if he is diagnosed with dementia, he said he wouldn’t regret his football career.

Talking to Danny Wallace and Phil Hilton on the Manatomy podcast, he continued: “Would I have changed anything if someone had said, ‘This might happen to you at some stage, or you don’t play football’. I would’ve played football.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and in hindsight I wouldn’t have headed the ball very much in training at all. That would’ve been the one difference.

“I think I’ve scored more headed goals for England than anyone.

“[Football] is my love, it’s my everything. It’s given me the best life ever, and would I change it, even if something like that happened? No. I’m 60 now, if it comes on in 10 years’ time, it comes on in 10 years’ time, but I’d have had 70 unbelievable years.

“Well, hopefully, I don’t know what the next 10 years has in store for me.”

Dementia is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain.

“Depending on the area of the brain that’s damaged, dementia can affect people differently and cause different symptoms,” explains the Mayo Clinic.

A recent study revealed those who play football professionally for longer periods or play in positions where heading the ball is more frequent, are more likely to develop neurodegenerative disease than their counterparts.

The study, led by Professor Willie Stewart and colleagues at the University of Glasgow, looked at the health records of around 8,000 Scottish former professional footballers and 23,000 matched general population controls for comparison.

It found for goalkeepers, neurodegenerative disease risk was similar to general population levels.

But the risk for outfield players was almost four times higher than expected and varied by player position with risk highest among defenders – around five-fold higher than expected.

The findings also showed neurodegenerative disease diagnoses increased with increasing career length, ranging from an approximate doubling of risk in those with the shortest careers to around a five-fold increase in those with the longest careers.

Symptoms of dementia

The NHS says dementia symptoms may include problems with:

  • memory loss
  • thinking speed
  • mental sharpness and quickness
  • language, such as using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking
  • understanding
  • judgement
  • mood
  • movement
  • difficulties doing daily activities

If you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms, talk to a GP. 

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