Pally - 'I'm a prime candidate for Dementia'

Colin Warnek

Well-known member

Gary Pallister: 'I'm a prime candidate for dementia, it felt like I had a head full of seashells'​

Former England and Man Utd centre-back reveals how ill heading made him and calls for it to be removed from children's game

ByJeremy Wilson, CHIEF SPORTS REPORTER9 October 2021 • 6:30pm
Gary Pallister arrives at Old Trafford for Manchester United vs Everton in October 2021


It was back in August, with the Olympics in full swing and Harry Kane trying to force through a move to Manchester City, that the University of Glasgow published a piece of research that was plausibly the most important in football history.
It arrived with little comment from the authorities but the results have certainly registered in the minds of a generation of players. Former defenders are five times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Those who played professionally for more than 15 years in any position are also at five times more risk. There is no sign of drop-off even among those who played in the later era in the 1980s and 1990s.
“I’m probably one of those who have stuck my head in the sand and thought: ‘I hope it’s not me’,” says Gary Pallister, the 56-year-old former Manchester United, Middlesbrough and England centre-back.
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“I suffered awful migraines. I've been knocked clean out. I've been on the pitch, woken up, and not known where I am. You put it all together and you start thinking: ‘Crikey, I’m a prime candidate for dementia’. It’s not a 100 per cent thing, I’m guessing, but you are thinking, ‘If you are a betting man, the odds are that you are probably at some time in your life going to get it’.”
It is an awful thought but Pallister, with typical honesty, has reached the conclusion that it is better to use his profile to raise awareness of the issue and place pressure on the football authorities to act.
He was part of a group of more than 60 former players, which also included Gary Lineker, Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer, who called for an urgent three-pronged ‘protect, prevent, preserve’ strategy that addresses the issue at all generations of the game.
Organised by the charity Head for Change, he also attended the first match with heading restrictions and, at the very least, believes that children should be protected and adults better informed.

“I look back and think, ‘My own experience tells me that heading had an effect’,” he says. "I suffered a lot with migraines when I started playing as a 16-year-old twice a weekend.
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“I used to think, ‘Is it because I am playing more football, heading more footballs?’ The migraines continued all through my career. It’s black and white for me now that football was one of the main reasons I was probably getting them.
“I had to go into a darkened room. I started throwing up. I would lose my speech. Get tingling on my arms. Lose my vision. Get blurred vision. It felt like I had a head full of seashells. Any movement caused pain. It was a real weird feeling. It would wipe me out for two days.”
Pallister still played more than 700 games through his career, winning four Premier League titles and three FA Cups among numerous honours with Manchester United. He was voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals in 1992 and says that the migraines only directly impacted his career when he was forced out of an England training camp under Terry Venables.
“I would probably have bad migraines four or five times a year,” he says. “I read up a lot of stuff. Migraines were blamed on diet, lack of sleep, water and hydration. There was always maybe another excuse. You were thinking, ‘Is it the heading?’ You brush it to the back of your mind and hope it wasn’t heading.
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“But once I stopped playing football the migraines eased to a point where for a number of years I didn't suffer them. Over the last couple of years, I have started getting them back a little bit but nowhere near the severity. I just get the vision thing and they are done and dusted within a couple of hours.”
The most serious concussion, says Pallister, was during an FA Cup match for Middlesbrough against Everton. “Nev Southall missed the ball and punched me in the back of my head,” he says. “At the end of that half my vision started to go. I was saying to the manager at the time: ‘Look I can’t see people.’ He’s going: ‘You’ll be alright second half.' I was going: ‘No, you don't understand. I can’t see the ball to head it. I can’t see players.'
"That was the kind of mentality you were dealing with at the time. I spent the night under observation at Middlesbrough General, released the next day, straight back into training a couple of days later. I know that was a consequence of a direct blow to the head. It became more talked about in our sport as my career came to an end but there was never really enough investigation into it.”
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Terry Butcher, another former England defender, has called for heading to be phased out of football. Pallister is undecided but is certain on the need for education and action to protect children. “What you have got to do is make people aware - give them the information they need before they participate,” he says.
“Too many people have stuck their heads in the sand and maybe hoped it would go away. They have to protect kids while their brains and skulls are still growing.”
 

Expat Smoggie

Well-known member
Football, like so many contact sports, have issues of health risks in the playing the game -- I wouldn't say football however is as acutely more dangerous as Rugby, Boxing or American football but the risks are known and the games' governing bodies [UEFA/FIFA etc] are trying to reduce the risks with new rules and the introduction of new technologies. Nonetheless, the risks are still there, and players have to understand those risks [maybe that's the job of lawyers and agents] before they go into the sport whether full-time or even part time. I've always been in favour of limiting heading the ball in football but to delete it from the game completely might be difficult without radically changing the game.
 
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Johnny Vincents Motorbike

Well-known member
the three Bs - Beer, Bacon & Balls.

interesting that Shearer was involved in a study, is this the same Shearer who kicked Neil Lennon full on in the head whilst he (lennon) was on the floor, and championed the weekend s boxing of 2 men hitting each other around the head to achieve knockouts?



seems strange his now worried about head damage and long term illness/injuries
 
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Borobarmy

Well-known member
So we won't touch on the fact that pretty much everyone succumbs ultimately to the effect work has on them . Be it miners, welders, riggers .etc

Footballers at least have the benefit of millions of pounds for kicking ( sorry and heading a bag of air ) .

Not to mention the mental price for many struggling to live (exist ).
 

Gains

Well-known member
interesting that Shearer was involved in a study, is this the same Shearer who kicked Neil Lennon full on in the head whilst he (lennon) was on the floor, and championed the weekend s boxing of 2 men hitting each other around the head to achieve knockouts?
seems strange his now worried about head damage and long term illness/injuries
“You did this once, you said that once, so you’re not allowed to say that now”

Sigh. The world we live in.
 

CommanderComcast

Active member
I think FIFA need to properly act and ban heading. It will fundamentally change the game of course but it's crazy to think that studies show of the link between consistently heading the ball and dementia yet it is still allowed to continue. If for no other reason, you'd imagine FIFA would act to avoid them being open to prosecution by not outlawing heading despite the evidence.
 

wilkos_perm

Well-known member
the three Bs - Beer, Bacon & Balls.

interesting that Shearer was involved in a study, is this the same Shearer who kicked Neil Lennon full on in the head whilst he (lennon) was on the floor, and championed the weekend s boxing of 2 men hitting each other around the head to achieve knockouts?



seems strange his now worried about head damage and long term illness/injuries
It seems strange that a man in his 50's is worrying about stuff that didn't concern him in his 20s?
 

Muttley

Well-known member
the three Bs - Beer, Bacon & Balls.

interesting that Shearer was involved in a study, is this the same Shearer who kicked Neil Lennon full on in the head whilst he (lennon) was on the floor, and championed the weekend s boxing of 2 men hitting each other around the head to achieve knockouts?



seems strange his now worried about head damage and long term illness/injuries
You must find a lot of things very confusing. Perhaps you too have been heading the ball a little too frequently? (Joke - or attempt at one)

I mean come on, young men do all kinds of dangerous stuff that we then regret. It is programmed into us, we climb trees and drive too fast, we take drugs and drink too much, most of us stop when we start a family. Priorities. I wouldn't want to stop young men (or women) doing stuff that is exciting and a little dangerous but where we know the long term consequences we need to try to make it as safe as possible. And that is a little selfish in that we all will either have to care for someone with the after effects of such behaviour or lose someone we hold dear to it.
 

anth25

Well-known member
I struggle to see how it could be removed from the game. It would be such a monumental shift in the game? But what other options are there as something clearly needs to be done? Head guards like Jimenez is wearing? Outlaw directly heading kicks from goalie so players can only challenge after the first bounce?? To just say no heading seems unfeasible
 

Chappy112

Well-known member
So we won't touch on the fact that pretty much everyone succumbs ultimately to the effect work has on them . Be it miners, welders, riggers .etc

Footballers at least have the benefit of millions of pounds for kicking ( sorry and heading a bag of air ) .

Not to mention the mental price for many struggling to live (exist ).
Horrendous take this. Unless you’re on the wind up.
 

Gains

Well-known member
the 'now' was last weekend - hes (shearer) still advocating getting hit around the head for sport.

Pally for example says, he got punched in the back of the head by Big Nev Southall, and he saw stars - his vision went - his manager/trainer told him to 'get on with it'.

its why the kick in the head to Dael Fry V Blackburn was disgraceful, apart from the cut and the blood being stemmed with grease and a bandage, nowt else was done, by the ref, the lino's or the adjudicator sat in the stand ticking boxes, one manager didnt see much wrong with it, t'other was concerned about sporting advantage - the injury to the animal (player) was just an aside.

you sigh all you want, it wont go away or get any better.
Agree with the Dael Fry stuff. But it's irrelevant to what I was referring to. people are forever recycling old stuff to try to drag others down, look at Bola ffs?

And your dislike for boxing is another irrelevant point, those fellas go in there full well knowing they'll get hit, they're conditioned for it and know they could be knocked out.

So trying to criticise Shearer for lending his support to something good now, because of something that happened in the highly charged arena of elite sport is at best silly, at worst makes you a bit of a bell end.
 
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