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I have brain damage from heading footballs, says NI World Cup hero Chris Nicholl

Chris Nicholl, 71, was a key defender in Billy Bingham's 1982 Spain World Cup squad

ONE of Northern Ireland's most famous footballing sons has revealed that he is suffering from brain damage - which he believes was caused by heading footballs.

Chris Nicholl, 71, was a key player in Billy Bingham's 1982 Spain World Cup squad and made the admission in a documentary that aired last night, which explores the link between dementia and football.

In the BBC documentary, which was presented by Newcastle and England legend Alan Shearer, Mr Nicholl said he often forgets where he lives due to his dementia.

"I'm brain damaged from heading balls," he said.

"My memory is in trouble, I forget things. All people do that. But when you forget where you live, that's different. I've had for the last four or five years, it is definitely getting worse."

Despite his condition, Mr Nicholl, a former Aston Villa and Southhampton centre-half, refuses to see a doctor about his failing memory.

"I haven't been to the doctors because I wouldn't change anything, anyway," he said.

The former Northern Ireland defender won 51 caps and was the Southhampton manager who gave Alan Shearer his debut in 1988.

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