Former Scotland defender Gordon McQueen diagnosed with dementia

The former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds defender Gordon McQueen has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, his family have said.

The 68-year-old started his career at St Mirren before moving to Elland Road in 1972, winning the First Division two years later and playing an important role in their run to the 1975 European Cup final.

McQueen went on to enjoy a successful time with Manchester United and represented Scotland on 30 occasions, scoring five goals.

Having managed Airdrie during a coaching career that included time at Middlesbrough, he went on to become a popular TV pundit with Sky Sports.

A statement released by his wife Yvonne, daughters Hayley and Anna and son Edward said: “In January, Gordon McQueen, our dad, was formally diagnosed with vascular dementia. As a family we felt it was important to let people know, particularly if raising awareness can help others in similar situations.

“Whilst 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.

“Football has allowed him to travel the world and experience things he could only have dreamed of. But he wants other footballers of today’s generation to know there may be risks with persistent heading of the ball.

McQueen was revered for his bravery in the air.
McQueen was revered for his bravery in the air. Pictured here heading the ball for Leeds against Coventry in 1976. Photograph: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock

“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. He does wonder if this has been a factor in his dementia as his symptoms appeared in his mid-60s.”

The family said McQueen “is fully aware of his friends and family still and his memory of all things football is sharp, but his cognitive functions are not the same. We don’t want people to be surprised by his condition or continue to ask him for media interviews or autographs which he is not able to do any more.”

McQueen’s former Leeds teammate Jack Charlton died with dementia last year and it was confirmed in recent months that Sir Bobby Charlton has been diagnosed with the disease. The brothers’ 1966 World Cup-winning teammate Nobby Stiles died with dementia last year.

The Football Association is supporting two independently led research studies examining former professional players for early signs of neurocognitive degeneration.


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