Manchester United great Denis Law has revealed that he has been diagnosed with dementia.
The former United forward, who scored 237 goals in 404 games for the Red Devils and is their third-highest all-time top scorer, released a statement on Thursday to announce a diagnosis of ‘mixed dementia’ – in his case, a combination of Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia.
After former team-mate Bobby Charlton’s diagnosis in 2020, the ex-Scotland international becomes the latest former footballer associated with the illness.
Law, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1964, wrote: “I am at the point where I feel I want to be open about my condition. I have been diagnosed with ‘mixed dementia’.
“It is an incredibly challenging and problematic disease and I have witnessed many friends go through this. You hope that it won’t happen to you, even make jokes about it whilst ignoring the early signs because you don’t want it to be true.
“You get angry, frustrated, confused and then worried, worried for your family, as they will be the ones dealing with it.”
Law and Charlton – who combine to partner George Best on a statue outside Old Trafford – are just two of a growing list to suffer from dementia post-retirement.
A study in October 2019 found that former footballers are three-and-a-half times likelier to develop dementia, leading to calls to eliminate heading from football altogether.
While the Football Association (FA) have not eradicated heading completely, they have introduced new heading guidance in July, which limits the amount of heading each player can do in training sessions across all levels of the English football pyramid.
Everybody is with you in this battle, Denis.
We are in admiration of your openness, your bravery and your humility to be open about your dementia diagnosis #MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 19, 2021
The 81-year-old said he wanted to address his illness outwardly to the public while he was still capable of doing so.
“However, the time has come to tackle this head on, excuse the pun,” Law continued in his statement.
“I have good days and bad days and aim to take each day as it comes adjusting my lifestyle accordingly.
“I don’t want people to be saddened if I forget places, people or dates because you need to remember I enjoyed all those memories and I am lucky to have experienced what I have in my life.
“I am trying to be positive and determined to continue watching my club, Manchester United at Old Trafford, hopefully this will be a season of success and I am excited by the new signings that Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] and the club have made.”
In a separate statement on Thursday, United added: “Denis Law will always be one of this club’s greatest legends and everybody at Manchester United sends our love and best wishes to him and his family.
“We know our fans around the world will also rally behind him.
“We applaud Denis’s brave words and will continue to offer whatever support we can as he adapts to this challenging condition.”
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