Gordon McQueen won the FA Cup with Manchester United in 1983
Former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United defender Gordon McQueen has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, his family has confirmed.
The 68-year-old, who began his career in St. Mirren, played 30 times for Scotland and won the English First Division with Leeds and the FA Cup at Manchester United.
McQueen ran Airdrie and Coach in Middlesbrough before working as a television expert.
His family said the former center-back was officially diagnosed in January.
“As a family, we felt it was important to educate people, especially if raising awareness can help others in similar situations,” they said in a statement.
“While we as a family have had a hard time coping with the changes in Dad, he has no regrets about his career and has enjoyed life to the full.
“He has had unforgettable experiences playing at Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United and has taken away so much from his coaching and television work more recently.”
The NHS estimates that around 150,000 people in the UK have vascular dementia. They say that it is caused by decreased blood flow to the brain and causes gradual changes and damage to the organ.
The family statement attributed to McQueen’s wife Yvonne, daughters Hayley and Anna, and son Edward states that McQueen “wants today’s generation of footballers to know that there can be risks associated with prolonged headings.”
McQueen’s former Leeds teammate Jack Charlton died of dementia last year and Sir Bobby Charlton has been confirmed to have been diagnosed with the disease in recent months. Dementia was also diagnosed in three other members of the English squad that won the 1966 World Cup.
Dr. Willie Stewart, the neurosurgeon who led research into the links between football and dementia, warned the problem was “not just for older footballers, but also for modern footballers.”
“Dad has scored some important goals in his career and has memorable headers, but has always stayed in training and directed the ball to the goalkeeper to keep training,” said the McQueen family. “He wonders if this was a factor in his dementia when his symptoms appeared in the mid-1960s.
“He is still fully aware of his friends and family and his memory of anything football-related is sharp, but his cognitive functions are not the same.
“We don’t want people to be surprised by his condition or to keep asking him for media interviews or autographs that he can no longer do.
“While he looks forward to seeing people again after the lockdown and regaining the social aspect of life, we know people will see a huge difference in his health, so they wanted to be transparent.
“We thank everyone in advance for their understanding, and hope that sharing this news will help Papa look positively into the future.”
Gordon McQueen has scored five goals in his 30 international matches
McQueen moved from Paisley to Elland Road in 1972, won the English top division two seasons later and reached the European Cup final in 1975, in which Leeds was beaten by Bayern Munich.
He joined Manchester United in 1978 and won the FA Cup five years later before retiring from Seiko SA in Hong Kong.
The defender has scored five goals in his 30 games in Scotland and was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
The football association is currently supporting two independently conducted research studies examining former professional players for early signs of neurocognitive degeneration.
The University of Nottingham’s FOCUS study is funded by the FA and Professional Footballers’ Association, while the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s HEADING study is funded by the Drake Foundation.