Manchester United and Scotland footballer Denis Law has revealed he has been diagnosed with dementia.
The Old Trafford legend has said he will no longer be able to sign items for fans but will continue supporting his club and the Denis Law Legacy Trust.
In a statement, 81-year-old Law, who scored 237 goals for the club, said he had been diagnosed with both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
The forward, who was known as The King and The Lawman by United fans and Denis the Menace by opposing supporters, said he was “determined to continue watching my club, Manchester United at Old Trafford”.
He added: “Hopefully this will be a season of success and I am excited by the new signings that Ole and the club have made.”
The former Scotland international also said he hopes to continue his involvement with the Denis Law Legacy Trust, which provides several “free to access” programmes for young people to take part in sport and other creative activities.
“I am at the point where I feel I want to be open about my condition,” Law said in his statement.
“I have been diagnosed with ‘mixed dementia’, which is more than one type of dementia, in my case this being Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
“This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone and the long periods of isolation have certainly not helped.
“It is an incredibly challenging and problematic disease and I have witnessed many friends go through this. You hope that it won’t happen to you, even make jokes about it whilst ignoring the early signs because you don’t want it to be true.
“You get angry, frustrated, confused and then worried, worried for your family, as they will be the ones dealing with it.
“However the time has come to tackle this head on, excuse the pun.
“I recognise how my brain is deteriorating and how my memory evades me when I don’t want it to and how this causes me distress in situations that are beyond my control.
“I do understand what is happening and that is why I want to address my situation now whilst I am able, because I know there will be days when I don’t understand and I hate the thought of that right now.
“In the height of the pandemic I said I hoped that if one positive was to come out of it, it would be that it would make people kinder to each other, so that’s what I am hoping for now.
“I don’t want people to be saddened if I forget places, people or dates because you need to remember I enjoyed all those memories and I am lucky to have experienced what I have in my life… a loving and supportive family, a great career doing what I loved and getting paid to do it and lifelong friends.
“I have good days and bad days and aim to take each day as it comes adjusting my lifestyle accordingly. I hung up my football boots a long time ago and now it’s time to put my signing days behind me too, so apologies to anyone who has sent me anything but I am just not able.
“I am trying to be positive and determined to continue watching my club, Manchester United at Old Trafford, hopefully this will be a season of success and I am excited by the new signings that Ole and the club have made.”
He added: “I know the road ahead will be hard, demanding, painful and ever changing and so ask for understanding and patience as this will not be an easy journey especially for the people who love you the most.”
In a statement, Manchester United said: “Denis Law will always be one of this club’s greatest legends and everybody at Manchester United sends our love and best wishes to him and his family.
“We know our fans around the world will also rally behind him. We applaud Denis’s brave words and will continue to offer whatever support we can as he adapts to this challenging condition.”
The Scottish Football Association added: “We are saddened to learn that our men’s all-time joint top goal scorer Denis Law has been diagnosed with dementia.
“The thoughts of everyone at the Scottish FA are with Denis and his family at this time.”
Law said his daughter, Di, was completing the Thames Bridges Trek on 11 September to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society and urged people to donate.
“As a family, we have been offered support by Alzheimer’s Society and have chosen to fundraise for the charity to help support its crucial work,” Law said.
“Alzheimer’s Society’s services have never been in more need, used over 5.5 million times since March 2020, and are a lifeline to thousands of families who are also facing a dementia diagnosis.
“The charity is also doing amazing work with the sports industry, with its Sport United Against Dementia campaign, which I fully support. This really could make the biggest difference to former players, players, and fans alike.”
Law is the latest in a number of ex-professional footballers who have been diagnosed with dementia, which has raised concerns over links with heading the ball and the disease.
A study found ex-players were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from dementia than non-players in the same age range.
Kate Lee, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society said: “We have offered support to Denis Law and the whole family.
“We are incredibly thankful to the family for choosing to raise vital funds for us and hope Denis’s bravery in coming forward will encourage many others to seek the help they need, for which we are hugely grateful.
‘We’ve seen too many sporting heroes impacted by the condition, which is why our Sport United Against Dementia campaign is needed now more than ever.
“It’s never been more important to fund crucial research and our vital support services and ensure that right now, past and present players, as well as fans, know our services are here and can get the dedicated dementia support they deserve.”