JOE JORDAN: My big pal Gordon McQueen is a huge name to get dementia and this will remind people what is happening – but he won’t be the last
- Joe Jordan has been close friends with McQueen since he joined Leeds in 1972
- Pair played many games together for Leeds, Manchester United and Scotland
- The 68-year-old’s family revealed he was diagnosed with dementia in January
I’ve known Gordon McQueen the best part of 50 years. We’ve been close friends since he joined Leeds United from St Mirren in 1972 and we were in the same digs.
We played many games together for Leeds, Manchester United and Scotland. He was the best man at my wedding and I was at his.
Due to lockdown, we haven’t seen each other for what seems like a long time but we speak every week on the phone and his wife Yvonne called us to say they were going to say something publicly about his health.
Gordon McQueen, pictured right during an FA Cup sixth round match in 1983, was diagnosed with vascular dementia in January
McQueen enjoyed successful playing days with Manchester United, Leeds and Scotland and has most recently worked as a TV pundit
He has been diagnosed with vascular dementia. We have seen a change in Gordon for a wee while now and, unfortunately, I know he is not an isolated case.
I’ve followed Sportsmail’s campaign backing more research and support for the families. One important idea is to create regional centres where former players can come together for a chat, have a cup of tea and socialise.
That would be a great thing for Gordon because it would trigger memories, get him thinking and give him something to look forward to.
He was always sharp as a tack with an incredible memory for details and that’s not the case any more.
Not for a second did we ever stop to think heading the ball might damage our health. Gordon was magnificent in the air. He was 6ft 3in and quick for a big man with an incredible leap.
Joe Jordan and McQueen played together for Leeds, Manchester United and Scotland
He took pride in that and practised hard to get his timing right. Every team had players who were exceptional in the air and you had to match them. Gordon did that and he had a habit of scoring important goals from set plays.
Now we are seeing evidence from the research and I see what is happening to people I used to share a dressing room with, not only Gordon.
I’ve read the stories of Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton and Dave Watson, all terrific footballers, and they’ve been hard to read. There are other ex-players who might not be household names but who played hundreds of games, and there are players in other sports.
It is in everybody’s mind. It’s something you dread. I’m fine, touch wood, but I’m doing everything to stop it creeping up on me. I keep my mind active and stay as fit as I can.
My mother-in-law had dementia. She was a battler and in the end had to go into a home. It’s sad and cruel when a person you’ve known so long is there but no longer the person they were.
Families suffer because they see the deterioration and then comes a time when you can’t look after them and that’s even worse. Those doing research like Willie Stewart have to be given finance so we can help ex-players and their families, those just finishing their careers and those who in the future need protection.
Sky Sports presenter, Hayley McQueen, alongside her family released the statement
McQueen penned this emotional message on Twitter following the heartbreaking news
Young lads don’t need to be heading the ball constantly and it can be easily controlled for senior pros in training. Do this, and treat head injuries with care and bring in concussion substitutions.
It is all about research, finding answers and people working together. The FA, LMA and PFA have to pull together to find solutions.
We have been woken up to this thanks to the work of families like the Astles and Chris Sutton and others. These families are not going to give up and more will join them.
Yvonne felt she had to speak up. Gordon McQueen is a huge name and this will remind people what is happening, but he won’t be the last. Another name will hit the nation.
People in the position to take action must not let it go. Let’s find some solutions.
Sportsmail’s dementia campaign was launched last November and has received backing from former footballers, as well as MPs