This isn’t really about football. It’s not even about what happens during the match. It’s about lifestyle and, more importantly, life.

Even a central defender, in my youth a large man with enormous strength whose forehead was his biggest physical asset but who nowadays is more of a complete athlete, would only head the ball a handful of times in a game.

That isn’t the issue. The issue is the number of times a player heads the ball in training to hone those matchday skills. And that is/was measurable in the hundreds. Every day.

It’s hardly a surprise then that Scottish football’s own study found that former footballers were three and a half times more likely to receive a diagnosis of dementia.

The latest in a long and illustrious team sheet of such men is the Dutch international defender and former Celtic manager Wim Jansen, who passed away recently.

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Getting stripped worryingly young to join that team are players like Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, whose heads must have taken countless thousands of blows down the years on their way to trophies and glory.

It is sadly true that the majority of their careers fell in a period when the game was played with a heavy leather ball which became heaver when it got wet.

And these players, like Frank Kopel, Ally MacLeod and Billy McNeill before them, didn’t even have the comfort blanket for their families of the vast salaries of today’s putative superstars.

I shudder when I hear the word dementia. It slowly twists the knife in my heart.

I was the main carer at home for my mother, Margaret Edwards, who was living with a diagnosis of dementia.

I saw her deteriorate with every second of every day from being a once vibrant, vivacious, beautiful woman to someone who lost everything to a hideous condition. She died in my arms.

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The other day, during a power cut, while seeking out the ‘grab bag’ of torches, candles and matches I keep for just such an exigency, I found a pair of her slippers. It brought everything crashing back.

Not even the fact that she lived to 91 and had a fabulous life of love, travel and adventure – largely spent helping any number of lame ducks and lost causes – could ease the douleur.

Dementia is prevalent enough in today’s world without inviting it out of the house for a kickabout.

FIFA must change the rules of the game and ban heading the ball, from Real Madrid to Rhu Amateurs.

And soon.

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