Football authorities are to look at concerns that heading heavy leather footballs could be a cause of dementia.

The news came after three of England’s World Cup winning heroes were diagnosed with devastating Alzheimers, including former Huddersfield Town star Ray Wilson.

World Cup veteran Ray Wilson, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimers is still upbeat and has started drawing strange drawings. Ray with his wife of 60 years Pat

Wilson, Martin Peters and Nobby Stiles are all now battling to live with Alzheimer’s – feared to have been linked to decades of heading traditional heavy leather case balls.

Wilson’s wife Pat revealed at the weekend how the condition has hit her 81-year-old husband hard.

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Now the FA has confirmed it will ask FIFA to investigate if there is a link between dementia and head injuries in football.

There have long been concerns that head injuries and concussions caused during matches are having severe long-term effects on players.

The family of former England striker Jeff Astle have campaigned tirelessly after his death in 2002 was attributed to repeatedly heading heavy footballs.

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The FA’s chief doctor Ian Beasley will speak to FIFA about exploring further the long-term medical dangers of playing the game.

1966: The England Team pose with the Jules Rimet Trophy after winning the World Cup against West Germany at Wembley. Top row left to right: trainer Harold Shepherdson, Nobby Stiles, Roger Hunt, Gordon Banks, Jack Charlton, George Cohen, Ray Wilson, Manager Alf Ramsey, and bottom row, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Alan Ball and Bobby Charlton. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“We are taking some research questions to FIFA imminently to ask, ‘Can you help us in trying to find out if dementia is more common in ex-professional footballers?’ he said.

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“The trouble is we just don’t know,” Beasley added. “It’s a massive undertaking to try and decide whether there’s an association between having played professional football and cognitive decline.”

Neuroscientist Dr Michael Grey said that persistent “microdamage” caused to the brain can result in dementia and called for more research.

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Wilson was diagnosed with ­Alzheimer’s in 2004, Peters, 72 , three years ago and 73-year-old Stilesy four years ago.

Former team-mate Jackie Charlton has also told how he is suffering from memory loss.

And England manager Sir Alf Ramsey had the disease in the years before his death at 79 in 1999.

Sir Alf Ramsey
Sir Alf Ramsey

World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks said: “It’s horrible, all this Alzheimer’s.

“It makes you wonder if it is anything to do with the footballs.

“We played with balls that are a lot heavier than they are now, with all that leather in.

Gordon Banks dives to save the ball. Also in the penalty area watching from left to right are Jackie Charlton, Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Martin Peters Football July 1966 ©Mirrorpix

“These guys had to practise heading those balls day in, day out, for years over the course of their careers.”

Peters’ daughter’s partner Mark Lovett is in no doubt the leather balls caused his condition.

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He said: “They were so heavy, especially when wet.

“And players like Pele and Bobby Charlton could hit them so hard it was like being struck by a boxing glove.”

Ray with his wife of 60 years Pat

Until now, Wilson’s family have not spoken about his illness. But wife Pat, 78, who devotes her life to caring for him, said he has been in a steady decline over the past 12 years.

She added: “There are people he played with at Huddersfield and Everton with Alzheimer’s.

“They are all over. They have talked about heading the leather ball causing it.”