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Former captain of England Dave Watson has neurodegenerative disease “probably caused by being in the lead”

Former captain of England and FA Cup winner Dave Watson has neurodegenerative disease “probably caused by heading”

  • Defender Dave Watson, 73, shone when Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973
  • He won the League Cup with Manchester City three years later and won 65 caps
  • His adviser now believes he has chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • It is the same disease that caused the death of West Brom striker Jeff Astle in 2002

Former English captain Dave Watson has a neurodegenerative disease

Former English captain Dave Watson has a neurodegenerative disease

Former English captain Dave Watson has a neurodegenerative disease that was “most likely” caused by head injury and repeated headache during his match days, his wife has revealed.

Penny Watson says the 73-year-old adviser believes he “is likely to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy” – the same disease that caused the death of former West Brom striker Jeff Astle in 2002.

Watson sparkled when Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973 and helped Manchester City to League Cup glory three years later in a career in which he won 65 caps and played for a number of clubs.

The former defender will be included in the Honor Gallery of Sunderland next month – before wife Penny has revealed that he is dealing with a neurodegenerative disease.

In a statement from the PA news agency, she said: “It seems the right time to inform you that my husband Dave Watson, a former international footballer and leader of England, has been fighting a neurodegenerative disease for several years.

Watson sparkled when Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973 and then won 65 caps

Watson sparkled when Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973 and then won 65 caps

Watson sparkled when Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973 and then won 65 caps

“His consultant has concluded that the condition Dave is now living with is in all likelihood Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – probably caused by Dave’s many head injuries, including severe concussions and repeated ball headings.

“Dave has good and bad days. He strives to live as well as possible and to enjoy a normal life, but almost every day we are confronted with a new challenge.

“If you meet him during a competition or elsewhere, don’t be afraid to communicate with him. Understand that he may not be able to talk like he once did, but he still likes to talk about football and shares a smile.

Former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died in 2002 of chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died in 2002 of chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died in 2002 of chronic traumatic encephalopathy

“Please be attentive if he has a bad day and has trouble. This disease is affecting his memory, so he may not remember it accurately and signing signatures can be a challenge.

“The last thing Dave wants is to be treated with pity. He has always been a fighter, as those of you who have seen him play know, but this is a fight that Dave cannot win.

“Although things didn’t end the way we had planned, Dave doesn’t regret pursuing his passion and doing what he loved – playing football.”

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