Latest News

VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank diagnose four former players with CTE

Jimmy Gabriel

The Concussion Legacy Foundation has confirmed that Jimmy Gabriel, Jimmy Fryatt, and Jimmy Conway are three of four former professional football players newly diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), with NCAA champion Franny Pantuosco also found to have the degenerative brain disease.

CTE has been linked to concussions in athletes, combat veterans and others who have sustained repeated head trauma and can only be diagnosed posthumously. Boston University researchers have diagnosed more than 100 NFL players with CTE. The condition has also been found in boxers, rugby players, professional wrestlers and members of the military.

The new cases are significant, as within English football, there have only been five other players publicly diagnosed with CTE, including Jeff Astle, Keith PontinRod Taylor, Billy McEwan and Nobby Stiles.

PFA Head of Brain Health, Dr Adam White, said: "We are saddened by today's announcement that three more former professional footballers have been diagnosed with CTE following brain donation at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank.

"Footballers' are at a greater risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases than the general public, that’s why we continue to campaign for the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) to designate sport-related dementia as an industrial disease. The remarkable courage displayed by families like these, who generously donate their loved ones' brains for research, allows us to further advance our knowledge of brain injuries and provide vital support for current and future generations of players."

Jimmy Gabriel

Jimmy Gabriel, was a Scottish football defensive midfielder and defender who represented the Scottish national team.

During an astonishing 25-year career, he amassed over 300 appearances for Everton, including winning the First Division title in 1962-63 and the FA Cup in 1966. He then joined Southampton and made over 200 appearances for the Saints. Following briefer spells at AFC Bournemouth and Brentford, Gabriel ended his playing career with the Seattle Sounders in the North American Soccer League and became a coach, working in England and the United States.

In 2021, Jimmy passed away, aged 80, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jimmy Fryatt

Jimmy Fryatt, was a long-serving Football League journeyman playing for Southend United, Oldham Athletic and Blackburn Rovers, among many others, both in England and the United States.

In 1964, playing for Bradford Park Avenue, Fryatt established a Football League record by scoring after only four seconds, the fastest goal in the competition's history. His strike partnership with Bill Atkins at Stockport County earned them both a place in the Hatter's Hall of Fame.

Valerie Fryatt said her husband had several diagnosed concussions, but CTE researchers believe the disease can also be caused by repeated sub-concussive blows to the head, which in the context of football could include heading the ball, she said: “Jimmy was a prolific header of the ball. He was very skilled at that. A lot of players from that era said he was the best header of the ball they’d ever seen.”

In 2020, Jimmy died in Las Vegas, aged 79.

Jimmy Conway

Jimmy Conway played mainly as a midfielder and was capped 20 times for the Republic of Ireland. In 1966, he joined Fulham from Bohemians (his home town club in Dublin). He spent ten years at Craven Cottage, scoring 67 times in 314 League games, and was a member of the Fulham side that reached the 1975 FA Cup Final. He then had a brief spell at Manchester City before joining Portland Timbers in the North American Soccer League.

He would become player-coach with the Portland Timbers, and his name is enshrined in the team's Ring of Honor. He subsequently coached extensively at the professional and collegiate levels in the United States.

In February 2020, Jimmy died aged 73, in Oregon.

Featured News

News Listing