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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 17:28 GMT
Warning over Astle's death
Geoff Astle in England kit
Former West Brom star Astle died in January
The inquest verdict on Jeff Astle's death could have serious consequences for the game, according to former Professional Footballers' Association vice-chairman Brendon Batson.

Coroner Andrew Haigh ruled that former West Brom striker Astle died from a degenerative brain disease caused by heading heavy leather footballs.

Astle collapsed and died in January aged 59, and his family have always maintained his death was caused by constantly heading a football.

Batson, now West Brom's chief executive, attended the inquest with Astle's family and said: "Now that we have the verdict it confirms their worst fears.

"There is a wide implication for football. There has been anecdotal evidence suggesting that players are having brain problems from being professional footballers.


At the end of the day the game he lived for has killed him
Jeff Astle's daughter, Dawn

"From the report they are suggesting that that might be trauma from heading the ball. So they could have a cause to the problems that Jeff suffered."

Astle's daughter Dawn said: "Since dad was diagnosed the family have believed that heading footballs caused his brain damage.

"We just wanted justice and for the truth to be known.

"At the end of the day the game he lived for has killed him. We always believed that playing soccer and heading the football day in and day out at West Brom had killed him.

"Our mum has lost her husband and we have lost a father, who will never know his grandchildren."

Astle hit 137 goals in 292 league appearances for West Brom and scored the extra-time winner in their 1968 FA Cup final win over Everton.

After retiring, he started a window cleaning business from his Derbyshire home.

Astle also enjoyed renewed fame in the 1990s with regular appearances on the Fantasy League television programme.

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The BBC's Mike Sergeant
"Astle's trademark was his powerful header"

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20 Jan 02 | Football
20 Jan 02 | Football
11 Nov 02 | Health
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