'Dying in the most undignified manner' - Chris Sutton on his dad's dementia and football's 'hidden scandal'

Former Norwich City striker Chris Sutton has opened up about his dad's heartbreaking battle with dementia as he leads a campaign for football bosses to do more to support those affected by the disease.

Sutton's father Mike, who also played for the Canaries, has dementia and is now in a care home.

Over the past 10 years, Mike's condition has continued to decline, and Chris says it's been soul-destroying to watch on helplessly as his dad deteriorates.

  • Watch an extended interview with Chris Sutton

"How he spends his days, the weight that he's lost, the fact that he can't go to the toilet properly - I defy anybody if that's a member of their family not to be heartbroken by that," Sutton told ITV News Anglia.

"But this isn't isolated. It's hundreds upon hundreds of players who've been neglected."

As is the case with many other footballers, specialists believe Mike's condition could be down to repeated heading of the ball.

And Mike's story is far from unique.

In November last year, the Canaries said goodbye to one of their greatest leaders, Duncan Forbes, who died 12 years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Duncan Forbes (left) and Martin Peters (right). Credit: ITV News Anglia/PA

A month later, the club lost its only World Cup winner, Martin Peters, who'd been living with dementia for three years.

Research has already shown that footballers are more likely to develop dementia, and ex-Norwich duo Iwan Roberts and Jeremy Goss have recently backed a £1 million study at the University of East Anglia which will test players for early signs of the disease.

Sutton has now teamed up with the Daily Mail newspaper to publish a seven-point charter calling for more action be taken, including the introduction of concussion substitutes and for heading to be limited at all levels in training.

What is Chris calling for?

Chris Sutton at his home in Norfolk. Credit: ITV News Anglia
  • 1.) Increased funding from the FA and PFA for more research into dementia and its links to football

  • 2.) The PFA to provide respite for families and carers of former players living with dementia

  • 3.) The PFA to appoint a dedicated 'Dementia team'

  • 4.) The PFA to fund regular social events for players living with dementia and their families and carers

  • 5.) Dementia to be formally recognised as an industrial disease

  • 6.) The introduction of concussion substitutes

  • 7.) Clubs to limit heading at all levels. A maximum of 20 headers per session allowed and a minimum of 48 hours between sessions

In response to the charter, the Professional Footballers' Association have set up a new taskforce to look at brain injuries in the game, and Chris says he hopes the disease will finally be taken seriously by those running the sport.

"It's not going to save my dad. It's not going to save me. I don't know, I may get it - I try not to think about it," said Sutton.

"But I know with these precautions, if they're put in place, it will probably save my sons and my daughter who plays football. And it will probably save future generations."