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No-brainer by Mike Amos

No-brainer by Mike Amos

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Bill Gates had quick feet and a quicker brain. His talent for football took him from the backstreets of a mining village to the biggest stadiums in English football. He played for Middlesbrough in the 1960s and 1970s alongside the England world cup winner Nobby Stiles and was managed by another 1966 hero, Jack Charlton.

There was another side to Bill, he was a shrewd and hard-working businessman. In the 1980s, he and his wife Judith sold the sports shop chain they had built for millions. They moved to the Cayman Islands and lived a luxury lifestyle.

There was just one problem – the headaches kept getting worse. Then the memory problems came.

No Brainer interweaves Bill and Judith Gates's extraordinary rise from humble roots to Caribbean millionaires with the story of football's hidden tragedy.

In 2014, Bill was diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Dementia is football’s industrial disease and its guilty secret.

Many famous ex-footballers have succumbed to the disease (a far higher percentage than in the general public) almost certainly from repeatedly heading the ball. Sharp-witted, agile strong men are now diminished and confused.

Jeff Astle, Denis Law, and Bob Paisley and many other well-known footballers have suffered with neurodegenerative decline linked to their playing careers – along with Gates's colleagues Nobby Stiles and Jack Charlton.

To combat this problem, Judith Gates, who had her own journey from teenage mother to successful academic, co-founded the charity Head Safe Football, which will receive all royalties from the book.

Interwoven with the Gates’ family story are interviews with brain experts such as Dr Willie Stewart, consultant neuropathologist at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Dr Michael Hornberger, Professor of Applied Dementia Research at the University of East Anglia.

Dozens of retired footballers and rugby players have started legal action against the sports authorities over the injuries they sustained while playing. No Brainer tells their story through the prism of a remarkable lad from a Durham pit village – and his equally remarkable wife.

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