A doctor looking into possible links between football and dementia has said England’s World Cup winning midfielder Nobby Stiles, who died aged 78 in October, suffered severe brain damage from repeatedly heading the ball.

Collyhurst born Stiles, who played on the World Cup winning team in 1966, had been diagnosed with dementia, as were several of his team mates including Jack and Bobby Charlton.

Stiles’ family said they had donated his brain to a study led by neuropathologist Willie Stewart.

“He told us that the damage to my dad’s brain was very severe and could only be explained by him heading the ball over the sustained period of his career,” Stiles’ son John told the Daily Mail.

“It confirmed what he had believed for a long time.”

Stewart said “brain injury and head impacts” were the only recognised risk factors in the type of damage Stiles had suffered.

“With Nobby, there is no recorded history of him sustaining a brain injury or concussion,” he told the newspaper. “Hence we propose his risk came from heading the ball.

“While he may have headed the ball a certain number of times in a match, like many others he would have been subject to countless impacts in training sessions. Every single impact could have caused damage.”


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