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Canaries legend says father is being ‘eaten alive by dementia’ as he accuses union boss of failing families

PUBLISHED: 07:34 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:26 22 November 2018

Chris Sutton. Photo: C1 Photography

Chris Sutton. Photo: C1 Photography

C1 PHOTOGRAPHY

A former Norwich City player has hit out at a union boss for not doing enough to help ex-footballers with dementia.

Chris Sutton, Norwich v Blackburn, February 22, 1994. Photo: ArchantChris Sutton, Norwich v Blackburn, February 22, 1994. Photo: Archant

Chris Sutton, who played for the Canaries between 1991 and 1994, slammed Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) boss Gordon Taylor in a column for the Daily Mail.

Mr Sutton’s father, Mike, now 74, represented Norwich City between 1963 and 1966 before teaching PE at Hellesdon High School and now lives with dementia.

He did not show any symptoms of dementia until he was in his 60s but Mr Sutton said the PFA dragged its feet over research into a potential link between headers and dementia. Mr Sutton said: “My dad Mike is a brilliant man. He is my hero. He is 74, a year older than Gordon Taylor. He has been in a care home for a year now, under lock and key for his own safety. My mum cannot look after him any more.

“My dad was a professional footballer from 1962 to 1972 at Norwich, Chester and Carlisle. He suffers from dementia. It’s likely he suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative disease of the brain caused by repetitive brain trauma.”

But Mr Sutton said a study into links between repeated head injuries and dementia which resumed this year, following a TV documentary with Alan Shearer, had previously been shelved. And he accused Mr Taylor of knowing it had failed and not telling those potentially affected. It comes as Mr Taylor recommended an independent review be held into the PFA amid pressure from the union’s chairman, Ben Purkiss, and more than 200 current and former players.

Mr Sutton said: “In failing to tell anyone, he failed my dad Mike and hundreds of former and current footballers. He failed his union members and their families. He failed hundreds and thousands of footballers around the world because he didn’t tell anyone the testing had stopped.

“My mum lives on her own now. My children go to see their grandad playing Lego and see their grandad unable to string two words together. It’s not the way it should be.”

Mr Sutton said his father was “being eaten alive by dementia” and that Mr Taylor “could have made a difference”. He added: “He was obliged to try.”

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