Family of Albion's Jeff Astle renew calls on FA to take action

The family of West Bromwich Albion legend Jeff Astle today renewed calls for the Football Association to take action after new tests confirmed he died from the same disease found in brain damaged former boxers.

Family of Albion's Jeff Astle renew calls on FA to take action

The 59-year-old, who is best remembered for scoring the winning goal at the 1968 FA Cup final, died in 2002 after being originally diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

But a doctor who carried out a re-examination of Astle's brain, after his family gave permission, now believes he suffered a progressive degenerative disease in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury.

Today his daughter Dawn reiterated her pleas for action from the game's governing body, The Football Association, to warn others.

The family had always feared that his death was caused by heading a football rather than Alzheimer's disease, as was believed when he passed away in 2002.

Now it has been confirmed that the England star is the first British footballer known to have fallen victim to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which stems from repetitive low level blows to the head.

Mr Astle's daughter Dawn said at her home in Leicestershire: "This is now a 100 per cent proven fact.

"There are no ifs and buts anymore and we want the FA to formally and publicly acknowledge that the game Dad loved ultimately killed him.

"We are disgusted by the way they have treated us but we are still prepared to work with them because they have the resources, skill and, I hope, the will to make football a better and safer game. We can not do this on our own."

His brain had been donated for research at a Nottingham hospital and the family gave Dr Willie Stewart - a leading neuropathologist - authority to re examine it.

They took the decision after discovering in March that both the FA and Professional Footballers Association(PFA) had done nothing despite vowing to produce a 10 year joint study into the link between heading the ball and the early onset of dementia.

A coroner found in 2002 that Mr Astle's death had been caused by 'industrial disease' linked to heading footballs after home office pathologist Dr Keith Robson found his brain 'resembled that of a boxer.'

Meanwhile CTE has been found in the brains of over 200 American football players.

Dr Stewart said: "Jeff's case is not unique. In football there will be more and what will be happening is that this diagnosis in football may be seen as unusual."

In a statement, The FA said: "This year has seen a cross-football commission on concussion, which includes representatives from the FA, leagues, club doctors and player representatives.

"The group is reviewing and improving the game's approach to head injuries and has taken advice from other sports such as rugby and horse racing and horse racing. The result of this work is that the rules on concussion are due to be changed ahead of the 2014-15 season."

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