Carlo Ancelotti has said he fears not only developing dementia in later life but also motor neurone disease as a consequence of treatment he received as a player in Italy.
The Everton manager made the frank admission while backing calls for more research into links between dementia and football. The 61-year-old, a key midfielder in the great Milan team that dominated European football in the late 1980s, admitted players of his generation were also anxious about possible links between MND and treatments they were given to recover from injury. He cited the example of former teammate Stefano Borgonovo, who died in 2013 aged 49 and campaigned against doping in football after being diagnosed with what is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Ancelotti said: “The more research they do for this [dementia in footballers] is welcome. Forty years ago, when I played, there was not the same control as the players have now and it is true players of the past have problems, not only with dementia but with a lot of other things.”
He added: “I had a teammate, Stefano Borgonovo, who died from ALS. Of course we are worried about what happened in the past and the treatment we had in the past. But what can we do now? The treatment we had then is not the treatment that we have now. Now we have to support the research for the future, not for the past because unfortunately that is the past and what happened to us we may never know.
“Some players from the past have had big, big problems unfortunately. Until now I didn’t have problems but of course I am worried about this. I do not know what happened to me or what kind of treatment I had. I can try to understand now what happened to me in the past but the fact that I had six surgeries on my knees means something went wrong. The fact that I had surgery on my cervical spine means something went wrong when I was a player.
“But that was the past. We have to work for the future of the players playing now and fortunately things have improved a lot on the physical aspect and prevention. Now players are doing a safe job. I cannot say my job was safe when I played. It would be wrong for me to say that.”