A former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds defender Gordon McQueen, who was capped 30 times for the Scottish football team, has been diagnosed with vascular dementia.

A former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds defender Gordon McQueen, who was capped 30 times for the Scottish football team, has been diagnosed with vascular dementia. Confirming this through a statement, his family asked that attention be paid to the occurrence of this amongst today’s crop of players.

McQueen, who began his career at St Mirren before moving to Elland Road in 1972, won the First Division two years later and also played an important role in Mirren’s run to the European Cup final in 1975.

From 1978-1985, McQueen went on to enjoy a successful time with Manchester United playing in 184 appearances and with 20 goals to his name. He scored five for Scotland in his 30 appearances.

The 68-year-old turned to coaching in 1987 and managed Airdrie during a coaching career that included time at Middlesbrough. The ex-centre-back also went on to become a popular TV pundit with Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.

In the family statement released by his wife Yvonne and children Hayley, Anna and Edward, they described endearingly the husband and father in these words:

“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.

“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 last year in and out of lockdown has been tough as dad is such a sociable person and thrives off company.

“Social interaction is key for someone with dementia and he has been deprived of this for so long. He 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.

“Whilst he is looking forward to seeing people again after lockdown and getting the social aspect of life back, we know people will see a big difference in his health so wanted to be transparent.

“We thank everyone in advance for their understanding and hope sharing this news will help dad to face the future in a positive way.”

Bringing the discussion of dementia up again is timely as McQueen’s former Leeds team-mate Jack Charlton died with dementia last year. It was also confirmed in recent months that Jack’s more popular brother, Sir Bobby Charlton, one of England’s best players and part of the world cup winning team of 1966, the year he won the Balloon d’Or, has been diagnosed with the disease also.

Nobby Stiles, who was a teammate of the brothers in the triumphant 1966 set, also died with dementia in 2020.

The English Football Association (FA) is currently supporting two independently-led research studies examining former professional players for early signs of neurocognitive degeneration.

The FOCUS study by the University of Nottingham is being funded by the FA and Professional Footballers’ Association, while the HEADING study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is being funded by the Drake Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the processes underlying neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia.

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