1966 World Cup legends unite with Alzheimer’s Society to launch United Against Dementia campaign

1966 World Cup legends Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks OBE are coming back together and urging people to unite against dementia – in a tribute to their teammates living with the condition.

Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks OBE

The two former footballers make an emotional return to Wembley Stadium in a new TV ad fronting the campaign, which will air for the first time today (Wednesday 26 April) and run for six weeks as part of the biggest campaign and fundraising push Alzheimer’s Society has ever undertaken.

It will see the pair sharing their experiences and fond memories of being a part of the victorious 1966 World Cup Squad. It will also see them reminisce about playing with fellow team mates Martin Peters, Nobby Styles and Ray Wilson, all of whom now live with dementia.

Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer and there is currently no cure. Someone develops dementia every three minutes and Alzheimer’s Society warns too many are facing it alone, without adequate support. Gordon, whose brother David died with dementia in 2012, and Sir Geoff, are urging the British public to come together and unite against dementia, for the sake of urgently improving care, offering more support and understanding and finding a cure. 

Talking about his support for Alzheimer’s Society Sir Geoff Hurst, former England and West Ham striker who famously scored the winning game’s hat-trick, said:

'It’s devastating to see Britain’s heroes – our World Cup colleagues and the people we grew up with – living with Alzheimer’s.'

'I’ve found it incredibly difficult to see my former team-mate Martin Peters, who I’ve known since the age of 17 and grew up with at West Ham going through it. It has completely changed my understanding of dementia and how it affects people.'

'I’m delighted to be backing this campaign and raising awareness and vital funds for a cause incredibly close to my heart. It’s so important for the nation to unite and support Alzheimer’s Society – not just for our heroes and friends, but for the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this cruel condition. By donating, people can help fund research and the vital support the charity provides.'

Gordon Banks OBE, who was goalkeeper for the winning England squad and Stoke City, said:

'My brother David died from Alzheimer’s a few years ago and it’s such a horrible disease. It was extremely difficult to see the difference Alzheimer’s made to him and it really hurt me when he died - because I couldn’t do anything about it.'

'When I think of the players that we’ve played with in the World Cup final – my dear friends, Ray, Martin and Nobby, who were fit and strong - it just shows how dementia can just affect anyone.'

'Geoff and I are uniting with Alzheimer’s Society to show people the devastating impact it can have on people and their families - and how contributing a few pounds could really make a difference for those living with dementia and in making steps to finding a cure.'

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said:  

'It’s an incredible honour to have the support of football legends Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks OBE. We’ve seen that tragically, dementia doesn’t care who you are. If it can affect Britain’s greatest heroes like Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson, it could affect any one of us.'

'Dementia can devastate lives, yet too many people face it alone, without adequate support – and we urgently need more funding to improve care, offer help and understanding and find a cure. We can’t do this alone and we need everyone across Britain to unite with us.'

Also supporting Alzheimer’s Society’s United Against Dementia campaign is ex-Wales international footballer Robbie Savage. Robbie lost his dad, Colin, to younger onset dementia – which affects more than 40,000 people in the UK under 65 - when he was only 64, after being diagnosed at 58. 

Robbie – who is famed for his spats with referees - is uniting with former top level English football referee Uriah Rennie:

'People think dementia is an old person’s condition but it isn’t. My dad was struck down in his prime. Dementia can affect anyone anywhere.'

'It was so painful to witness my hero and best friend gradually slip away. In the end he couldn’t speak, swallow or recognise me at all. To see him like that was devastating for the whole family. That’s why it’s so important for me to get involved with this campaign.'

Gordon and Geoff’s ad is part of Alzheimer’s Society’s biggest ever awareness and fundraising campaign, United Against Dementia. Alzheimer’s Society is urging everyone to come together and unite against dementia.

Unite now - text UNITE to 70677 to donate £3 a month or donate online.