It is 20 years since the death of West Bromwich Albion legend Jeff Astle. He died after suffering dementia, caused by heading heavy footballs.
His legacy is as strong as ever, however. He remains a totemic figure who is loved and revered by legions.
It was the late Mr Astle’s predicament that opened the debate about the impact of heading in football. With the pioneering work of his campaigning daughter, Dawn, his legacy will be that lives are saved as a direct result.
The debate about head injuries continues to rage and it is inevitable that new rules will have to come in to safeguard children. The impact on youngsters of heading footballs cannot be ignored and there may well also be limits imposed on adults during training.
Mr Astle was a hero but his family are also heroes for leading the fight for change. They should be proud of the work they have done in his name. They have brought together the footballing community and fans from all clubs support their efforts. Their intentions are honourable and they seek to prevent others from suffering the same tragedy that they endured.
They have built upon the proud tradition of the venerated and much-loved former Albion star and are bringing about positive change. No doubt Mr Astle would be much inspired by his own daughter, Dawn, who shines like a beacon. Her efforts are notable and she has the ear of movers and shakers in the world of football.
Mr Astle was a humble hero whose actions spoke louder than words. That code of ethics has been passed down and now his family deserve our support in making football safer.
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