Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister fears he is a “prime candidate” to suffer from dementia after revealing he endured “awful migraines” during his playing days.
Pallister was a four-time Premier League winner with United during the Alex Ferguson era, but the centre-back is concerned about the damage caused by heading the ball during his glittering career.
With several members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team diagnosed with dementia in recent years, the issue is becoming a major concern among footballers.
Brain injury specialist Professor Willie Stewart was the leader of a FIELD (Football’s influence on lifelong health and dementia) Study in 2019 that found professional players were three and a half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the general population.
Pallister, 56, attended a ground-breaking charity match in Spennymoor last month, played under rules designed to restrict the use of heading.
“I’m probably one of those who have stuck my head in the sand and thought, ‘I hope it’s not me’. I suffered awful migraines. I’ve been knocked clean out. I’ve been on the pitch, woken up and not known where I am,” Pallister told the Sunday Telegraph.
“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’.”
Pallister said he experienced fewer migraines after he retired but reflected on how they would impact him, adding: “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.”