The widow of a legendary football player who died from dementia is backing a group calling on headers to be banned in the game.

Scottish lobby group ‘Heading Out’ is urging the game’s governing bodies to begin moves to ban heading the ball on what would have been the 75th birthday of football hero Frank Kopel, who died from dementia aged 65.

Advertiser columnist and former STV journalist Mike Edwards is the founder of Heading Out, which is urging the authorities to change the rules to protect future generations of players.

Frank’s widow Amanda believes his diagnosis was down to trauma caused by repeated collisions with other players while attempting to head the ball during matches and heading the ball thousands of times during decades of daily training.

She said: “Frankie and I should be celebrating today and looking forward to the rest of our lives together, instead I’ve been grieving his loss and mourning him for 10 years.

“The game is a long, slow, certain killer while heading the ball is part of it.

“The game is called football not headball and the rules have to change. Nobody should head a ball – particularly children.

“Frankie loved the game but we never imagined for a moment it was so damaging.

“FIFA and the IFAB have a duty of care to protect the next generation of players, particularly with the Euros about to start.”

Frank, who played for Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Dundee United, Arbroath and Forfar Athletic, died from dementia in 2014, aged just 65.

Heading Out echoes the findings of recent Scottish academic studies which revealed that footballers are three and a half times more likely to receive a diagnosis of a neuropathological disease like dementia, five times more likely if they were a defender.

Mike retired from his journalism career to care for his elderly mother Margaret after her dementia diagnosis.

He said: “We learn from an early age not to handle the ball, surely we can learn not to head it either.

“Scotland has led the way by banning children from heading the ball in training and adult players from heading in the 24 hours before and after a game.

“I’d like to see the practice banned altogether after the 2030 World Cup, which I think is a reasonable deadline. Not heading the ball will save players’ lives."

More details about the organisation and the team behind it can be found at