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Andy Townsend believes it is 'too much of a coincidence' former players are suffering from dementia


Former Republic of Ireland captain Andy Townsend believes it is ‘too much of a coincidence’ players in the era of old boss Jack Charlton are suffering from dementia as he urges FA to step up research into the disease

  • Sportsmail have launched a campaign to tackle football’s dementia scandal 
  • Andy Townsend recently contributed to a film on his former boss Jack Charlton
  • Charlton and Townsend’s own dad Don died with the condition earlier this year 
  • And the former Republic of Ireland captain has called for the FA to act now
  • He was speaking exclusively to the Gary Newbon Sports Show on Punching.TV

Andy Townsend believes it cannot be a coincidence that former footballers who played with former boss Jack Charlton are suffering from dementia.

The former Republic of Ireland skipper was speaking after Sportsmail‘s recently-launched campaign to tackle football’s dementia scandal, calling for meaningful action in the sport to address the long-term effects of heading the ball.

The 57-year-old was recently an executive producer and contributor to ‘Finding Jack Charlton’ – a documentary film released earlier this month on his former international boss, who died in July aged 85 after suffering from dementia in later life.

Andy Townsend believes it is too much of a coincidence that former footballers who played with Jack Charlton are currently suffering with dementia

Andy Townsend believes it is too much of a coincidence that former footballers who played with Jack Charlton are currently suffering with dementia

Townsend was speaking on the Gary Newbon Sports Show regarding dementia in football

Townsend was speaking on the Gary Newbon Sports Show regarding dementia in football

Former midfielder Townsend made 70 appearances for the Republic of Ireland and scored seven goals for his country between 1989 and 1997, while Charlton was boss between 1986 and 1996. 

But now he has called for the FA to step up and commit to further research in the link between dementia and football after stating he knows many players who were team-mates with World Cup winner Charlton now suffering with the disease. 

‘There are a number of players, particularly from Jack’s era, who have got to later stages in their life that have all started suffering with it and that must be too much of a coincidence,’ Townsend said in an interview with The Gary Newbon Sports Show on Punching.TV. 

‘We have got to explore this link and be prepared to face some home truths if the numbers are starting to suggest that.  

‘Where we are with this is that there now has to be some serious thought and analysis going into how we go forward with this and where this all goes from here.

Townsend (right) was recently a contributor to a film on his former Republic of Ireland boss

Townsend (right) was recently a contributor to a film on his former Republic of Ireland boss

World Cup winner Charlton passed away with the condition in July this year aged 85

World Cup winner Charlton passed away with the condition in July this year aged 85

‘I am obviously getting to that point at 57 where it probably won’t be long before there are people who I either played with or against that are seemingly suffering with it.’

Townsend’s father Don, who played for Charlton and Crystal Palace during the 1950s and 1960s, also died with the condition in July this year aged 89.

And that personal suffering that Townsend has experienced is the reason why the film has resonated with many others, he says.  

‘So many people who have watched the film so far, it has struck a chord with them because people can see with how Jack was suffering, they can see very similar things with their own parents and grandparents,’ he continued.

Townsend's father, Don, played for Charlton and Crystal Palace in the 1950s and 60s

Townsend’s father, Don, played for Charlton and Crystal Palace in the 1950s and 60s

Don (second left, training with Palace) died with dementia in July this year aged 89

Don (second left, training with Palace) died with dementia in July this year aged 89

‘It is tough, there is no other word for it. It is a tough part of anybody’s life but I think in context it was very important to play a part in the film.

‘It wasn’t quite so much of a shock when I saw him [Charlton] because I was living through something very similar with my own dad. 

‘In many ways I was able to start to understand exactly where he was in his life.’ 

Nobby Stiles joined Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson last month among England’s 1966 World Cup heroes to have died after suffering from dementia, while Charlton’s brother Sir Bobby Charlton, now aged 83, was diagnosed with the same condition earlier this month.

The Gary Newbon Sports Show, with @Punching.TV, and in association with MailOnline Sport, will be streamed live every Thursday #GNSS.  

Townsend played under Charlton for the Republic of Ireland between 1989 and 1996

Townsend played under Charlton for the Republic of Ireland between 1989 and 1996

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