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Bill Gates, Middlesbrough defender who inspired dementia campaign, dies

The former Middlesbrough defender Bill Gates, who inspired a campaign to highlight links between football and dementia, has died aged 79.

Middlesbrough confirmed on Monday that Gates, who spent his entire professional career at the club, making more than 330 appearances between 1961 and 1973, had died at the weekend after suffering from a progressive brain disease.

Gates made two appearances for Jack Charlton’s imperious Division Two promotion-winning side of 1973-74 before he retired from football aged 30.

His illness inspired his wife, Dr Judith Gates, to co-found the Head For Change charity focusing on research linking neurodegenerative disease to sport-related brain injuries. Dr Gates went on to launch Head Safe Football earlier this year. The charity works to educate on how to mitigate the risk of brain damage from repetitive head injuries and on the dangers of heading in football. It also works to support individuals with a connection to football, and their families, in accessing the right care.

We were saddened to learn of the loss of Bill Gates #RIP

— Middlesbrough FC (@Boro) October 23, 2023

Head Safe Football’s website states Gates was suffering from probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can only be diagnosed by a post-mortem examination. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease uniquely associated with repetitive head impacts.

“I think I can speak for everyone at the club when I say what sad news this is,” said Middlesbrough’s head coach, Michael Carrick. “On behalf of myself, the players, the staff, and everyone connected with the club, our thoughts are with Bill’s family and friends at this time.”

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