Former Leeds, Man Utd defender McQueen diagnosed with vascular dementia

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(Reuters) - Former Scotland defender Gordon McQueen has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, the 68-year-old's family said in a statement on Tuesday.

McQueen's family said the former Manchester United and Leeds United centre back was formally diagnosed in January and they sought to raise awareness among young players about the risks of persistent heading of the ball.

"As a family we felt it was important to let people know, particularly if raising awareness can help others in similar situations," McQueen's family said in a statement.

"Whilst as a family we've found it hard to come to terms with the changes in dad, he has no regrets about his career and has lived life to the full.

"He had unforgettable experiences in his playing days with Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United, and also took so much from his coaching and TV work in more recent times."

McQueen began his playing career at St Mirren before moving to Leeds United in 1972. He joined Manchester United six years later before retiring in 1985. He went on to manage Airdrie before working as a television analyst.

He played 30 times for Scotland, scoring five goals.

"Dad scored some important goals in his career and memorable headers but used to stay back in training, heading the ball to the goalkeeper for practice over and over," the McQueen family added.

"He does wonder if this has been a factor in his dementia as his symptoms appeared in his mid-60s."

The issue of dementia in the professional game was sparked by the death of England's Nobby Stiles in October and there have been calls for the issue of head injuries in sport to be given further attention.

McQueen's former Leeds team mate Jack Charlton was diagnosed with dementia before his death last year. Charlton's brother and Manchester United great Bobby Charlton also has the condition.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)