Footballer’s Widow Cautions Players After Husband’s Tragic Passing

Judith Gates endured years of seeing her husband, Bill, a former professional footballer, wilt under the mental and physical strain of his beloved sport.

After Bill Gates’s cognitive abilities began to deteriorate, he pleaded with his wife, Judith, to promise him something.

He said it was too late for him but asked her to do everything she could to stop it from happening to others.

After retiring from football the day before his 30th birthday in 1974, the ex-Middlesbrough defender never headed a ball again.

Decades later, when the footballer-turned-businessman died of a neurodegenerative illness, the consequences of all those impacts became apparent.

It is difficult to pinpoint when the symptoms first appeared. Many folks have various versions of when they first noticed something was up with Bill.

Bill was in his mid-60s when Judith and him were making preparations in approximately 2010, but he kept asking when and where they were going.

A London memory clinic diagnosed Bill with amnesic moderate cognitive impairment in 2014 after he lost all recollection of events occurring merely two hours before.

The physicians had assured Judith that her husband had a chance to recover, so she left that meeting with a glimmer of optimism.

Later, when Bill boarded a train north, he couldn’t park their automobile at Durham station, ending all those hopes and ambitions.

Footballers are three and a half times more likely than the general population to get dementia, according to recent research. Notable figures among Bill’s contemporaries who were diagnosed with the disease include Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles, who won the 1966 World Cup with England.

After her father’s trouble in the last few years, West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle’s daughter Dawn began warning others about the perils of going in the same vein.

Head for Change gained international attention when they played two exhibition matches in Spennymoor Town, a venue where heading was prohibited. 

Judith, together with her sons David and Nick, also cared for Bill at that time.

When asked if he would do it all again if he had known then what he knew now, he said, ‘I would’ve stopped in a heartbeat.’