Two of England’s World Cup winning squad have spoken of their sadness at the effect dementia has had on three of their former team mates, as they joined a bid to raise funds for research into the disease.
Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks recalled the “wonderful” memories they share with their fellow 1966 footballing victors, as they took part in an awareness campaign.
The pair appear in a new television advertisement where they reminisce about the historic day when England lifted the world’s greatest footballing trophy.
But the sporting stars, who are part of the United Against Dementia campaign launched by the Alzheimer’s Society, described a stark contrast today for their teammates Martin Peters, Nobby Styles and Ray Wilson who now live with the condition.
Banks, now 79 and himself battling cancer, told the Press Association: “We had such wonderful moments with these lads that have got dementia.
“All the times we had jokes with them and a laugh and a drink, and just wonderful, wonderful memories.
“And to think of them now, like they are now, they can’t even remember us and it’s just so sad now, it really is.”
Sir Geoff has enjoyed an annual golfing trip with Peters and their wives since the 1980s, but last year he said it was “difficult” to see how his long-time friend’s health had gone downhill.
Sir Geoff, 75, said: “By that stage of course he had been deteriorating so it was quite difficult to see one of your teammates, close up.”
Seeing the impact on someone he had known since his teenage years motivated him to take part in the campaign, he added.
He said: “It’s such an important charitable cause and the key thing for me is to make people aware, to get people to unite, to unite against dementia.”
Banks, who lost his brother David to Alzheimer’s in 2012, said he was hurt when his sibling died “because I couldn’t do anything about it”.
The former England goalkeeper and Stoke City player said he continues to receive treatment for cancer.
He said: “I have a scan every few months and that hopefully is getting smaller.”
It is thought one person is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes and there is currently no cure for the disease.
Sir Geoff, who guaranteed his place in football history by scoring the decisive goals in England’s 4-2 final win over West Germany, said it is a particularly tragic illness.
He said: “I think it’s a huge difference between a physical illness as Banksy is describing and with dementia.
“You know with a physical illness you’ve got a chance of recovering and Banksy is improving as he’s said.
“But with dementia you know that it’s only going to go one way.
“It’s not going to get any better, it’s only going to deteriorate.”
The pair, speaking in London, laughed and joked with each other as Sir Geoff admitted: “You never lose that dressing room banter.”