‘I hope dad’s death is catalyst to address this scandal’: Damning verdict on PFA from Nobby Stiles’ son after his father passed away from dementia
- John Stiles: ‘It’s about football looking after their own… that’s the essence of it’
- He has something he wants to get off chest on behalf of himself and his family
- His statement is dignified and it is measured. It is also incredibly damning
John Stiles says: ‘It’s about football looking after their own…that’s the essence of it.’
The eldest son of Nobby Stiles, speaking for the first time since his father — one of England’s 1966 World Cup heroes — passed away after suffering from dementia and prostate cancer, has something he wants to get off his chest on behalf of himself and his family.
The statement he provides to Sportsmail is everything you would expect. It is dignified and it is measured. It is also incredibly damning.
John Stiles has something he wants to get off his chest on behalf of himself and his family
The family of Nobby Stiles have called on the PFA to do more to help suffering former players
JAMIE REDKNAPP: ‘To see our national heroes suffer and not receive the support they should is wrong. I fully support the Daily Mail working with Sport United Against Dementia (SUAD) to act now to help fight this appalling disease.’
JERMAINE JENAS: ‘Sport has a unique ability to reach millions of people. I am proud to support SUAD and the Mail’s campaign.’
ALEC STEWART OBE: ‘I am proud to support this groundbreaking campaign. To see all sports unite to fight dementia is long overdue. It is imperative we tackle it together.’
MATT LE TISSIER: ‘We can’t stand by and see our heroes cut down by this horrible disease but do nothing. I support the campaign and hope we can all make a difference.’
DENISE LEWIS OBE: ‘Seeing sport come together to form SUAD with the Daily Mail is a brilliant initiative that I have no doubt will bring about meaningful change.’
ROBBIE SAVAGE: ‘My dad was my hero and was struck down by dementia in his prime. It was devastating for the whole family. With so many of our footballing heroes also affected, I couldn’t sit back and not act. It’s important to me to see Macclesfield, which I’m involved with, unite with a charity so close to my heart. That’s why we will champion Alzheimer’s Society’s SUAD campaign.’
James Cracknell OBE: ‘Alzheimer’s is so cruel and we have to act. The sporting world with the Daily Mail and Alzheimer’s Society working together to beat dementia is something I am proud to support.’
The Stiles family are a private group and the emotion following the sad loss of Manchester United and England legend Nobby at the end of last month is still raw.
The much-loved 78-year-old’s funeral took place last Thursday, but there is a message they need to make public.
Their carefully-composed statement starts by paying tribute to the great man, whose toothless grin as he joyously danced along the Wembley turf following World Cup glory is etched on the nation’s conscience. It also thanks his carers, those who supported him in his hour of need.
It begins: ‘We are really proud of dad for what he achieved and more importantly the man that he was. We have been really touched by the love people had for dad and the memories they had of him. He reached the very top of his profession, yet retained his humility.
‘He loved his country and was very proud to have represented England. Of course everybody remembers my dad dancing around Wembley in 1966. The final years of his life were blighted by ill health and we are grateful to the carers who looked after dad.’
It then turns its attention to the Professional Footballers’ Association and those who did not support him in his hour of need. Those who perhaps were responsible for him having to sell his medals in 2011 to support his family.
‘Dad is from a generation of footballers who played before the creation of the Premier League,’ it says. ‘There is a need for urgent action. These older players have largely been forgotten and many are in ill health like dad. They need support now and they deserve it.
‘How can it be that these players are left needing help when their own union has tens of millions of pounds available today? The modern player will never need the help required by the older lads. How can it be that these players are left to struggle when the Premier League receives £3billion a year?
‘How can it be right that some of the heroes of 1966 had to sell their medals to provide for their families? These older players are dying like my dad. Many don’t have medals to sell. It is right, of course, to seek to identify the cause of dementia in older players but in truth the cause is irrelevant to the older players.
‘Whatever the cause they need help now. I hope dad’s death is the catalyst for this scandal to be addressed.’ They are powerful words and they demand action.
Stiles died earlier this month at the age of 78 after a battle with dementia and prostate cancer
‘The players need help now,’ adds John, who played for the likes of Leeds United and Rochdale. ‘I think the statement makes that clear and it’s out there for people to see. We don’t want the wait for information to give them an excuse. All we hear is ‘we need more studies’. The studies should continue but we can’t wait for another five years.
‘It’s blatantly obvious. Heading the ball has given them dementia.’
John and the family have endorsed our campaign, launched on Tuesday. ‘We’re delighted that the Sportsmail campaign to help players has been launched,’ he says. ‘We hope it produces much-needed, urgent action.’
For more information please visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/SUAD or phone the Dementia Connect Support line on 0333 150 345
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