Cambridgeshire

Peterborough United footballer Chris Turner's wife blames dementia on game

Chris Turner
Chris Turner played for Peterborough Utd in the 1970s and later went on to manage the team

The wife of a former footballer who has frontal lobe dementia says she believes years of heading heavy footballs caused his condition.

Chris Turner, 62, played for Peterborough United and was diagnosed after falling ill in 2006.

His wife Lynne said doctors told her it was "caused by heading too many balls".

The FA is discussing similar concerns with the family of ex-player Jeff Astle who died in 2002 from brain trauma caused by heading heavy leather balls.

Chris Turner
Turner at Wembley during the 1992 play-off against Stockport

The governing body has said it would also meet Mrs Turner to discuss her husband, who is now confined to a nursing home.

She said: "[The FA] have really got to acknowledge that there is something going on.

"It's not for Chrissy, because he's never going to benefit. It's too late for him, but it's for kids now who are heading balls."

'Violent headaches'

Turner was a defender with Peterborough United from 1969-1977, and later played for Luton, Cambridge United, Swindon and Southend before retiring in 1984 and going on to manage both Cambridge and Peterborough.

Mrs Turner said he remained active until becoming ill.

Chris Turner
Chris Turner at London Road, the home of Peterborough Utd

"We took him to the doctor. That's when they did a brain scan and said he'd got frontal lobe dementia caused by heading too many footballs. It's what boxers get," she said.

"I know there are thousands going through this, but at 55, to be like that when you were so full of life, doing the job you loved in football... and that's what's killed him really, because he's just not the same person anymore."

Mr Turner has been unable to walk, talk or eat for about five years, his wife said.

She is convinced the condition was brought on by years of heading heavy footballs as there is no history of dementia in his family.

"I know that is what did it," she said. "He complained of violent headaches in his forehead and that's when it started."

A spokesman for the FA said: "[We] are working with other sports with higher prevalence of head injuries towards an education programme to allow safe participation in any sport.

"There are standards set out in the laws of the game for the size, weight and pressure of footballs and we will continue to liaise with Fifa on this and other medical issues."

The association would, he added, be happy to discuss Mrs Turner's concerns about the game.

Chris Turner
Chris Turner managed both Cambridge Utd and Peterborough Utd before retiring from the game

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