Gary Lineker thinks at least one of him and his 'Match of the Day' co-stars will "probably" get dementia.

Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker

The 60-year-old former footballer admitted he and co-stars Alan Shearer and Ian Wright fear they will contract the disease in the future due to years of heading balls after research showed professional ex-soccer players are 3.5 times more likely to die from a brain disorder than the general population.

And Gary has pledged to get extra checks for signs of dementia, which has led to the deaths of 1996 World Cup players Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson, and Bobby Charlton diagnosed with the condition last year.

He said: “I’ve had conversations with Alan Shearer and Ian Wright and others about the worry that come 10, 15 years that it might happen to one of us.

"The odds suggest that it probably will.

“I have regular health checks, including the brain. So far everything is OK.

"I’ll have my triannual test this summer and ask if there’s anything they can establish around the brain, because I don’t see how, given the circumstances any footballer wouldn’t be worried about it.”

And Gary - who has teamed up with talkSPORT for a 'Dementia in Football' documentary - believes practicing heading the ball should be removed from training exercises, though he doesn't feel it should be banned completely.

He said: "Do you want to take heading out of the game? No I don’t think so, but you can take heading out of training, or limit it massively.

“Exercises where defenders are heading it clear, crosses are sent in and players are heading the ball away and at goal repeatedly – bang, bang, bang – most damage will probably be done then.

“In a match how many times would you head it? Not that many.

“If I had known what I know now, I would have certainly limited the amount of heading I did.

"It’s hard to imagine the game without heading, but maybe it’s worth trialling.

“The era of the 1966 players has made us really aware of this. Football has changed since, so we may see it (dementia) is less prevalent in my era.

“But can we afford to wait that long? I suspect not.”


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