Gordon McQueen, former Scotland, Leeds and Manchester United defender was diagnosed with vascular dementia on Tuesday. Vascular dementia is a condition which causes memory loss in older adults, particularly in those at higher risk of stroke due to obesity or diabetes.
The 68-year-old started his career in Scotland with St Mirren before joining Leeds United, with whom he won the English top-flight before his move to Old Trafford, where he won the FA Cup. McQueen went on to manage Airdrie and coach at Middlesbrough, before working as a television pundit. His family said that the former centre-back was formally diagnosed in January.
Head injuries can impact footballers even after retirement
“As a family we felt it was important to let people know, particularly if raising awareness can help others in similar situations,” they said in a statement.
“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.”
The family statement, attributed to McQueen’s wife Yvonne, daughters Hayley and Anna, and son Edward, said that McQueen “wants 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,” said the McQueen family. “He does wonder if this has been a factor in his dementia as his symptoms appeared in his mid-60s.
The Football Association is supporting two independently led research studies examining former players for early signs of neurocognitive degeneration.
Head injuries are devastating for any person and this condition shows that even after retiring from football, heading the ball can have diverse impacts on a professional football. All of us football fans wish Gordon McQueen a speedy recovery.