DENIS LAW DEMENTIA BATTLE
‘My hard road ahead’
FOOTBALL legend Denis Law has revealed he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
The 81 year old, nicknamed “The King” during his 11 years at Manchester United, is the latest former player to reveal he is suffering from the degenerative brain disease.
In a moving statement he said: “This will not be an easy journey, especially for the people who love you the most.”
With a flash of characteristic humour, Denis – a famously good header of the ball – added: “The time has come to tackle this head on, excuse the pun.”
Denis, who said he is no longer able to sign items for fans, becomes the sixth member of the 1968 United squad to be diagnosed with dementia.
The former Scottish international said: “I am at the point where I feel I want to be open about my condition.
“I have been diagnosed with ‘mixed dementia’… in my case this being Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. It is an incredibly challenging and problematic disease.”
He added: “You get angry, frustrated, confused and then worried. Worried for your family, as they will be the ones dealing with it.
“However, the time has come to tackle this head on, excuse the pun. I recognise my brain is deteriorating and how my memory evades me when I don’t want it to and how this causes me distress in situations beyond my control.
“I do understand what is happening and that is why I want to address my situation now whilst I am able because I know there will be days when I don’t understand and I hate the thought of that.
“I don’t want people to be saddened if I forget places, people or dates because you need to remember I enjoyed all those memories and I am lucky to have experienced what I have in my life…a loving and supportive family, a great career doing what I loved and getting paid to do it, and lifelong friends.
“I have good days and bad days and aim to take each day as it comes. I hung up my football boots a long time ago and now it’s time to put my signing days behind me too, so apologies to anyone who has sent me anything but I’m just not able.”
Denis also said he hoped to go on watching Man United – and to continue his involvement with Denis Law Legacy Trust, his charity which “supports young people to be confident, capable, and responsible citizens”.
He added: “I know the road ahead will be hard, demanding, painful and ever changing and so I ask for understanding and patience as this will not be an easy journey especially for the people who love you the most.”
Aberdeen-born Denis had spells at Huddersfield, Manchester City and Torino before joining Manchester United in 1962. He scored 237 goals in 404 appearances for the club.
He was capped 55 times for Scotland and remains their joint top scorer on 30 goals.
Denis is immortalised in the United Trinity statue outside Old Trafford – alongside Bobby Charlton and the late George Best. He and wife Diana have five children: Diana, Gary, Andrew, Robert and Iain.
He was appointed CBE in 2016 for his services to football and charity and has called on fans to support his daughter who is tackling The Thames Bridges Trek on September 11 to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Denis said the charity had offered him support and was a lifeline to thousands of families who were also facing a diagnosis. United called Law “one of this club’s greatest legends”, adding: “We know our fans will also rally behind him. We applaud Denis’s brave words and will continue to offer whatever support we can as he adapts to this challenging condition.”
An Alzheimer’s Society study in 2019 led by the University of Glasgow revealed that former professional footballers had a three and a half times higher rate of death due to neurodegenerative disease than expected.
The charity noted that while some research suggests brain trauma may increase the risk of dementia, the study did not say if heading the ball was involved. ● To support Di’s fundraising, visit www.justgiving.com/thelawman
DENIS Law displayed the courage which defined his Manchester United career when he revealed he has Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
The 81-year-old will have brought comfort to others who have been diagnosed with the condition. By talking with such candour about anxiety and his concern for his loved ones, the goal-scoring legend will have reminded people that they are not alone.
Scientists are racing to perfect medical breakthroughs and there is cause to hope future generations will be spared such suffering. Law’s legions of fans treasure his continued presence at Old Trafford, and people with dementia in families across Britain can be assured they will be loved in the years ahead.