Daily Express

DENIS LAW DEMENTIA BATTLE

‘My hard road ahead’

- By Jan Disley

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.

Distress

“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.

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 ?? Picture: PETER ROBINSON/EMPICS ?? Law man... Denis up for header; in 2020; with wife Diana; with his boys, Diana and daughter; collecting his CBE
Picture: PETER ROBINSON/EMPICS Law man... Denis up for header; in 2020; with wife Diana; with his boys, Diana and daughter; collecting his CBE
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