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23 August 2021

Manchester United football legend Denis Law has dementia

Scotland and Manchester United legend Denis Law has been diagnosed with dementia. Law, 81, who says he has Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, is the latest former player to reveal he is suffering from the degenerative brain disease.

Denis Law

His former United teammate and World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton was diagnosed with the condition last year.

"This will not be an easy journey especially for the people who love you the most," Law said. "I know the road ahead will be hard, demanding, painful and ever changing and so ask for understanding and patience.”

"I recognise how my brain is deteriorating and how my memory evades me when I don't want it to and how this causes me distress in situations that are beyond my control. I do understand what is happening and that is why I want to address my situation now whilst I am able, because I know there will be days when I don't understand and I hate the thought of that right now."

Law won 55 caps for Scotland and scored 30 international goals to distinguish himself as one of the country’s greatest ever players. Alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and George Best at Old Trafford, the striker formed what was hailed the United Trinity.

"Denis Law will always be one of this club's greatest legends and everybody at Manchester United sends our love and best wishes to him and his family," the club said. "We know our fans around the world will also rally behind him. We applaud Denis's brave words and will continue to offer whatever support we can as he adapts to this challenging condition."

Law and his family are fundraising for the Alzheimer's Society, who have offered the former footballer support.

"The charity is doing amazing work with the sports industry, with its Sport United Against Dementia campaign, which I fully support," Law said. "This really could make the biggest difference to former players, players, and fans alike."

A study in 2019 found that professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die from dementia than people of the same age range in the general population.

Sir Bobby was the fifth member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning side to be diagnosed with dementia.

His brother, Jack, and Nobby Stiles, both died last year after suffering from brain functioning diseases believed to be linked closely to heading footballs, while both Martin Peters and Ray Wilson - who died in 2019 and 2018 respectively - also had the condition.

Stiles, Peters and Wilson were diagnosed with it while still in their sixties. In a BBC documentary screened in 2017, Stiles' son John told former England captain Alan Shearer he was "utterly convinced" heading a football was responsible for his father's dementia.

Alzheimer's Society chief executive Kate Lee said she hoped Law's "bravery in coming forward will encourage many others to seek the help they need".

"It's never been more important to fund crucial research and our vital support services and ensure that right now, past and present players, as well as fans, know our services are here and can get the dedicated dementia support they deserve.”

“The sad news that Denis Law has been diagnosed with dementia shows that the condition is no respecter of fame or social status,” says Jamie Smith, Projects and Development Director at Coate Water Care. “Dementia can effect anybody at any time, there should be no stigma attached, and as Denis has made clear what is important is facing up to the condition and getting the best possible care.”

Research shows there are more than 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia. One in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80.

To find out more about any of Coate Water Care’s nine care homes, about the way we care for people living with dementia or to book a viewing please contact our friendly Welcome Team on 01793 821200.



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