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One of England’s greatest footballers, Sir Bobby Charlton has been diagnosed with dementia- a disease characterized by loss of memory.

He featured for Manchester United and was a member of the 1966 World Cup winning team.

The news of the 83-year old legend’s condition was broken to The Telegraph newspaper by his wife, Lady Norma Charlton.

His diagnosis comes just days after the death of his former team-mate, Nobby Stiles, and three months after the passing of his older brother, Jack, at the age of 85.

Both were discovered to have been diagnosed with dementia in their later years.

The Telegraph report that Lady Norma hopes the news may now ‘help others’. 


Sir Bobby featured in every minute of England’s World Cup glory campaign in 1966. The revered former midfielder also won the Ballon d’Or in the same year.

He is regarded as one of the finest footballers in history – and scored 49 goals in total on the international stage.

The icon netted 249 goals in 758 games for United, and was a crucial performer in the club’s first European Cup triumph in 1968. 

Sir Bobby was a survivor of the tragic Munich Air Disaster in 1958, which saw 23 people killed on board. 

Up until the end of last season, he was regularly spotted attending United games alongside Lady Norma. 


His diagnosis will increase demands for football to do more to deal with dementia in professionals after the passing of Stiles on Friday.

Stiles, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton and Ray Wilson, all members of the 1966 group of heroes, have died in the last couple of years after living with dementia.

A Staffordshire corner concluded, when examining the death of former West Brom forward Jeff Astle, that heavy, rain-sodded footballs – coupled with the game’s physicality – might have been a cause of his neurodegeneration. 

His daughter, Dawn, has spearheaded the campaign for research into the area. 

She said: ‘Our hope back then was we might establish a real understanding of the link within perhaps 10 years at least.


That might mean we could help families, even though it was too late for people like my dad.’

However, it was only 12 months ago that analysis, funded by the PFA and the FA, firmly established the connection made all those years ago. 

It was discovered there was a five-fold increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s, a four-fold increase in motor neurone disease and a two-fold increase in Parkinson’s among former players. 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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