Dad's influence as an ex-professional footballer is helping to raise awareness of dementia

Football legend Alan Peacock was diagnosed with dementia in 2018. His proud daughter, Diane, recalls the impact of her dad's diagnosis and how despite it all, Alan continues to use the power of football to make a difference.

Many people will know my dad as Alan Peacock, former Middlesbrough FC, Leeds United FC and England footballer. He played in the 1962 World Cup in Chile, but sadly due to injury, missed out on selection for the 1966 World Cup squad.

To me he is just my Dad and I’m so very proud of him!

Funnily enough, I wasn’t aware he was famous until I started senior school and everyone was asking if they could have his autograph.

A successful football career

To take you back, Dad started playing football as a young boy in the alley ways behind his childhood home in North Ormesby, Middlesbrough. His idol was Wilf Mannion, who he still regards as the best ever player. Dad played for his school and for the ‘Boro Boys’.

But his own father insisted early on that he serve time as a fitter and turner, just in case he didn’t make it as a professional football player!

He played for his hometown, Middlesbrough FC alongside Brian Clough, and then went on to play for Don Revie’s Leeds United with his good friend Jack Charlton.

In total, he won six caps for his country before his career was unfortunately cut short due to recurring knee injuries.

An old photograph of an England football squad, with Alan Peacock in it

Alan won six caps for England throughout his career

Now aged 85, Dad played in an era when they played for the love of the game. It certainly wasn’t for the money, as he earned £3 a week!

Noticing changes in Dad

I first started to notice Dad was having memory issues in 2016. He would forget names, places and recent events. Dad began to struggle with telling the time, remembering dates and days of the week.

He realised he was forgetting things and would often make things up to cover his lapses in memory and to save face. Dad still does this now.

He was officially diagnosed in 2018, but still doesn’t really understand what his diagnosis entails, but is determined it won’t define him.

Staying involved after diagnosis

Dad’s memories of his football stay with him. It was a huge part of his life and still is. He has his season ticket for the Boro and regularly goes to the Riverside to enjoy the matches.

His involvement with the MFC Foundation in particular makes him still feel he has something to offer.

The Foundation has recently created memory boxes using football memorabilia including Dad’s own memories, words and photographs. Along with Foundation staff, Dad visits local care homes weekly to chat with residents and share memories.

He puts on his best MFC suit and tie and suddenly his shoulders go back, he seems taller and is once again Alan Peacock the footballer.

This has such a positive impact on both him and the residents he visits.  Dad may not remember after an hour or so, but he gets such a buzz from the interaction at the time. It lifts his mood for the rest of the day.

Alan Peacock sat on a bench, smiling towards the camera

Alan hopes to raise awareness of dementia in the football community

He also attends a regular tea dance at the Riverside. People living with dementia and their carers get together socially, listen to old music, dance and generally have a great time.

Dad was really honoured recently to be asked to cut the ribbon to start the recent Memory Walk in Leeds in aid of Alzheimer’s Society which appeared across the media.

Impact of Dad's dementia

On a personal note, as his daughter and carer, it’s tough!

Dad has good days and bad days. I don’t live close by and do a round trip of 450 miles each week to stay with him for a few days. My family are very supportive, but it does have a huge impact on all of us.

Addressing the stigma

It saddens me that often people living with dementia are overlooked or ignored. Some friends and contacts find it difficult to engage, many drift away or distance themselves.

Maybe its embarrassment or a lack of understanding, I’m not sure, but I’ve witnessed this on more than one occasion.

Hopefully Dad’s involvement with the MFC Foundation and other amazing charities like Alzheimer’s Society will help raise awareness, education and support for people living with dementia, their families and friends.

Diane with her arm round Alan, her dad

Diane is hugely proud of Alan, who continues to stay active and involved

These days Dad sadly can’t remember the names of his three grandchildren, but ask him about football and he lights up. Long may it last!

Sport should be unforgettable

Through our work with sport, Alzheimer's Society is making a difference for all people who, like Diane and Alan, are affected by dementia.

Learn more


A very dear friend, and ex professional footballer, has developed vascular dementia. The strain on his family is enormous and I wonder why the Football Association and other immensely wealthy bodies (eg clubs) don't fund retirement homes for people like him, just as there are specific retirement homes for actors?
Hi Diane, I ve just sang infront of your dad and many others ,entertaining them with songs that jog their memory. It was a privilege to have this opportunity infront of a gentleman who has always been respectful and polite ,but it also give me the opportunity to rib him about the shop he owned on Carge Fleet Lane. Fantastic man,
Hi Diane my dad also has dementia (12)years now and also played football for Leeds Utd just before your dad Alan my dads Jim Ashall now 89 in December!keep up the great work. Hope this gets to you.

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your comment.

Would you be interested in sharing your experiences with your dad and more about your football memories together?

If so, you can write a post, like Diane has, for our blog. Please email [email protected] if this sounds like something you'd like to know more about. We'd love to hear from you, and help you tell your story. Experiences like yours can help raise awareness.

Wishing you all the best.

Alzheimer's Society blog team

Oh Diane your doing an amazing job looking after your Dad. I've walked in your shoes, I know how tough it is. As you say it affects all the family. I found most of my mums friends wanted to remember mum as she was before Dementia. Thinking of you. X
Very moving about your dad's dementia especially as I feel my mother may have it although no diagnosis yet. Your father also had a brief spell at my home team, Plymouth Argyle. All the best for the future.
A lovely story and a fantastic daughter to boot 😊 yep, it can be a tough old world but your love and humour shine through. I'm sure you get appreciated..but those with the book and the T Shirt send hugs and thanks also. Good luck to you both in your journey x
Brilliant Centre forward Watched him play many times Take care Alan
A lovely tribute to your Dad. Sad that he doesn’t remember how much it means to other dementia sufferers. And Diane how good you are caring for him. Thinking of you both with lots of love. X