Former Celtic man Chris Sutton joins Gary Lineker, Kevin Keegan and more in dementia effort
Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton, a committed campaigner regarding dementia in football, has joined Gary Lineker, Kevin Keegan and more in the fight against neurologic disorders in sport.
Celtic have seen a number of legends suffer from neurological disorders after long footballing careers. We lost our greatest ever captain, Billy McNeill, to dementia in 2019. Bertie Auld, another of the Lisbon Lions, is currently going through his own fight.
In England, cases have been widespread amongst ex-footballers. That includes Sutton’s father Mike [BBC]. Bravely, the former Celtic striker has been a valiant and worthy campaigner in the battle for more research and action on this front.
In 2019, Dr Willie Stewart’s FIELD study [University of Glasgow] highlighted that footballers have a “3.5 times higher rate of death due to neurodegenerative disease”.
To that end, Sutton has joined a list of campaigners including Lineker, Mark Lawrenson, Kevin Keegan, Trevor Sinclair and more [Daily Mail]. Their combined goal is set up a fund for ex-professionals blighted by dementia and other neurological disorders in their retirement.
The effort is being helmed by Head for Change. According to their charter, they’re “a start up charitable foundation, pioneering positive change for brain health in sport and supporting ex-players who are affected by neurodegenerative disease as a result of their professional sporting career in football or rugby.”
Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton, Gary Lineker et al deserve credit and support from Bhoys family
This is an issue that effects so, so many. It’s not just a Celtic issue.
However, Celtic fans have seen too many of our heroes struck down in their retirement by an evil, debilitating disease. There’s cause and effect that comes from football; that’s the depressing reality of it.
Heading a ball clearly has an impact long-term. While footballs are far softer, and use synthetic materials these days, that’s of no help to players from older generations. Even then, studies have shown that modern-day players are under similar risks from the impact of a football [BBC].
It’s likely we’ll see fundamental changes to the sport eventually. Simply put, the long-term risks aren’t worth the headed goals, the robust clearances and all the rest. They’re just not.
Celtic already have a robust infrastructure when it comes to charity, through the Celtic FC Foundation. However, it’d be no surprise, and a comfort to many, to see the club getting involved here.
As we said, some of our greatest heroes, our true club icons, have been struck by neurological disorders. If the very least that can be done in the short-term is providing a support fund, then it’s something the club will surely get behind.
It’s a difficult subject, and it’s one that will have effected most of us at some point.
But knowing that there’s action, with the influence of high-profile personalities behind it, can only be a pure and meaningful thing.