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World Cup icon Nobby Stiles' son kicked out by ­Doncaster Rovers over dementia leaflets


John Stiles produced a pamphlet highlighting research into how years of heading footballs could damage the brain and visited his former club Doncaster Rovers to hand out the leaflets

England 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles with son John in 2012
England 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles with son John in 2012

The son of World Cup winner Nobby Stiles has been kicked out of a ­football training ground for giving players leaflets on dementia risks.

John Stiles is angry that players are still not taught about the dangers, a year after his dad became the fourth member of the England 1966 world champions team to die from the disease.

He produced a pamphlet highlighting research into how years of heading footballs could damage the brain.

On Tuesday he visited his former club Doncaster Rovers to hand out the leaflets, but he said players were told not to speak to him.

Former Leeds United defender John said: “I started handing leaflets to one or two players.

“They were lovely lads. I was looking at their faces thinking, ‘I don’t want them to go through what my dad did’. It was emotional.







Nobby Stiles, then Manchester United half back, leaves Old Trafford with his 3-year-old son John in 1967
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“The next thing, two officials told me I had to leave. I went outside and waved down cars, until a player said they’d been told they couldn’t speak to me.

“It has been 20 years since England striker Jeff Astle died and a coroner told his family he was killed by an industrial disease. In that time there hasn’t been a single bit of information given to players. I’m upset, frustrated, but not surprised.”

Nobby’s family donated his brain for research after he died in October last year and learned it “was riddled with” CTE, also known as boxer’s brain, caused by repeated blows to the head.

They have watched three of his World Cup teammates, Jack Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson, die with dementia. A fourth, Sir Bobby Charlton, has the disease.

Fellow England international Jimmy Greaves lost a battle with dementia in September. Two more British ­footballers died with the disease last week, while England and Liverpool legend Ray Kennedy died of ­Parkinson’s on Tuesday.


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John, 57, has written to all 92 clubs in the English Football League, as well as the women’s Super League teams, asking for permission to give ­presentations to players.

He said: “We can’t change what happened to Dad and it’s too late to protect former players like me. God knows what is going to happen to us.

“But if we give young players the facts, maybe we can save one or two.”

The FIELD study, published two years ago, found ex-players are three and a half times more likely to develop neurodegenerative ­conditions. That led to a restriction on how often they can head balls in training.

The Government also announced plans for a draft strategy on acquired brain injuries yesterday.

Doncaster Rovers said: “The training ground is private property and is under strict Covid protocols. He entered without permission. The club would welcome a formal approach from John.”

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