Dundee, Raith Rovers and Dundee United legend Gordon Wallace has been diagnosed with dementia.
Gordon – who once held the Scottish record for league career goals scored – has revealed his diagnosis of mixed dementia.
Denis Law spoke of his own struggle with the same condition last week.
Former player, manager and youth coach Gordon and his family are speaking out to raise awareness of how widespread mixed dementia is – and to let the community know how he is doing.
“I haven’t spoken to anybody about my condition and folk don’t realise the extent of it,” Gordon explains.
“I still remember most people but I forget some. At first I thought it was just my memory as I was getting older.”
Now 78, Gordon was diagnosed earlier this year but has been undergoing tests for around four years.
Gordon and his wife Marilyn live in Monikie, Angus, and have four children between them and five grandchildren.
Marilyn explains: “People in the community know who Gordon is and come up to talk to him all the time.
“It can be very difficult if people don’t know. So we just want to tell people what we’re living with.
“Loved ones suffer too, having to watch them struggle.
“The diagnosis is mixed dementia. The dementia part is the disruption to organisational skills of the brain, planning things.
“The Alzheimer’s is the memory part, forgetting things or confusion.”
As well as becoming a Dundee hero after scoring the winning goal against Celtic in the 1973 League Cup final, Gordon managed the Dark Blues, Raith Rovers and was a respected coach at Dundee United.
‘I would do it all again’
Gordon, who started his career with Montrose, has been involved with Football Memories groups over the years and still enjoys watching and talking about the game.
“I didn’t think about heading the ball when I was playing, I just did it. And, even now, I still wouldn’t have given up my career,” he says.
“There are lots of people living with this.
“In the lower leagues, or guys that just play ordinary football, people have it and nobody knows.”
The couple are also appealing for in-person support services to reopen following months of closure or online-only activity due to Covid.
“There is help given to people with dementia,” says Gordon.
“I was part of a group at Tannadice where we talked about football.
“Many of the people there were players who had headed the ball and have brain problems.”
Marilyn continues: “We have support from family members.
“Gordon goes to his daughter Gaynor’s every week to watch football and my sons help us out. Angus Carers also phone us.
“But there could be more in-person support out there for people now, rather than on Zoom.
“People need to know what has happened to those living with these conditions.
“There are many more we know of and it is probably even more widespread.”
Clubs’ messages of support
Gordon’s former clubs have wished him well following his diagnosis.
Raith Rovers assistant manager Paul Smith said: “On behalf of all at Raith Rovers, I want Gordon and his family to know we are all thinking of him at this time and wish him all the best.
“Gordon signed me from Dundee Utd where I had been an ‘S’ form signing with Jim McLean.
“Gordon was a big part in kickstarting my career, giving me my first-team debut for the Rovers in 1983.
“The seven months I spent with Gordon were great – as a young striker being coached by him, he was a big help in my career.
“It’s always good to catch up with Gordon at the Raith Rovers Hall of Fame nights – he loves football and it was great talking about the latest results with him.”
A spokesman for Dundee said: “Everybody at Dundee Football Club sends our love and best wishes to Gordon and his family.
“Gordon is a close friend to many at the club and has been a regular visitor to Dens over recent years.
“As an ex-player, manager and coach he has given so much to the club over the years and we are all thinking of him at this difficult time.”