I won the lot with Manchester United and played for England but now I'm worried it's cost me my health

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“I would lose my speech, get a tingling down my arm, get blind spots.”

Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister admits he has concerns about dementia as he gets older. Pallister, 58, called time on a career that saw him win the Premier League on four occasions during a period of Red Devils dominance, 23 years ago.

The defender also won 22 caps for England during his playing days, while also getting his hands the FA Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup and League Cup. Indeed, it was a career that most footballers could only dream of, but Pallister fears it could have come at a price.

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The centre-back was renowned for his aerial ability, heading the ball to superb effect at both ends of the pitch on a regular basis. However, Pallister admits he used to struggle with concussion-like symptoms for much of his career and he fears the knock-on effect of heading the ball so frequently.

“I absolutely worry about it," Pallister told Teesside Live. "I suffered migraines throughout my whole football career. For three or four years they were probably quite debilitating as well. I would lose my speech, get a tingling down my arm, get blind spots...

"I used to wonder then if it was anything to do with heading a football, but there was no real research into that. You were just left to your own devices in terms of figuring out what it was. As soon as I finished playing football, I don’t think I had another migraine for another ten years. That speaks volumes to me about what heading actually did. I didn’t know there was a risk it could cause dementia, of course. Now it’s all being linked together, however, I can look back and think I was probably right with my suspicions at the time on heading a ball.”

Pallister is now taking active measures to try and prevent or limit the impact of dementia down the line as he approaches his senior years.

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“I try to keep my mind active," he says. “I try to take care of myself. The food you eat, drinking, smoking, it can all have an effect. Unfortunately, whether it matters after all the footballs I headed, I’m not so sure. At the moment, apart from the odd moment of forgetfulness, I think I’m okay. In the future, I just don’t know.”

Pallister was talking as part of the launch for new book 'No Brainer: A Footballer's Story of Life, Live and Brain Injury', which details the story of Bill Gates, formerly of Middlesbrough, who recently passed away after struggling with dementia. Of course, Gates was one of a raft of former players to have suffered with dementia as a result of the brain injuries he suffered while playing the game, with the issue coming into focus following the death of Jeff Astle in 2002 following repeated head trauma.

A 2019 study at Glasgow University found heading footballs could lead to brain injuries and a 2023 examination found that former professional footballers were 3.46 times more likely to be diagnosed with dementia than the general population. Some of the greatest players to play the game in Britain have been diagnosed with the illness including United legends Sir Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and Denis Law.