My mother, Margaret Edwards, never headed a football in her life - but her dementia was all consuming and it was agony to watch a once bright, beautiful, vivacious woman fade away before my eyes.

It was my privilege to end my fast-paced, demanding, lucrative career in television news prematurely in its tracks to care for her, home alone. We had nearly a year together before she passed, in my arms.

Then came lockdown and years of introspection in an empty house, full of echoes and memories. It was during those dog days that I hatched a plot to do something to try to help those living with dementia beyond what I had been able to do for my mother.

Heading Out can be found at and is the campaign group I launched this week, funded by the generous purchases of ‘You’re Seeing It!’, a book I wrote about the second 25 years of my life and detailing my mother’s dementia diary.

My plan now is to lobby football’s authorities to change the laws of the game and ultimately ban heading the ball because of the damage it does to players and the diagnoses of dementia it causes.

Too many heroes - that they were heroes is an irrelevance, they were human beings - have died after a career in a game they played because they loved it. Billy McNeill, Gordon McQueen, Bertie Auld and Frank Kopel sadly won’t be the last.

Heading the ball is a major contributor towards dementia in former footballers and should be banned, according to Mike Edwards

Heading the ball is a major contributor towards dementia in former footballers and should be banned, according to Mike Edwards

It is probably too late for the next generation. Their brains have already sustained enough damage to kill them in the decades to come. We can hope that the generation after will be safer if the rules change.

Studies by the University of Glasgow have revealed the uncomfortable truth that heading the ball can kill you. Professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to receive a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative condition like Alzheimer’s - if they played as a defender, with statistically more incidence of heading the ball, five times more likely.

The statistic which proves the point is that goalkeepers, who don’t habitually head the ball, have the same likelihood of a diagnosis as somebody who doesn’t play the game at all.

It’s sobering reading and fuels my desire to call for change.

If heading is not part of the game, players have no need to train for it and it is during daily training sessions, with multiple blows to the head, that the danger lies – not the 90 minutes on a Saturday.

The sport is called football, not headball, and the game has a duty of care to the men and women, and in particular the children, who play it.

We learn to play the game without handling the ball - we must learn to play the game without heading it too.