England

Jeff Astle charity launched on special West Bromwich Albion day

Albion's Craig Gardner, second right, celebrating alongside Darren Fletcher, left, and Brown Ideye, right, after scoring against Leicester Image copyright Associated Press
Image caption Albion's Craig Gardner celebrated with his team-mates while wearing the Baggies' retro kit

A charity named after West Bromwich Albion legend Jeff Astle has been launched on a day in his honour.

The striker, who won five England caps, died in 2002, aged 59, of a brain condition normally linked to boxing.

The Jeff Astle Foundation will promote care of other sufferers and research and education into the condition.

For Astle Day, Albion have been playing at The Hawthorns in a replica strip from the 1968 FA Cup final when the striker scored the winner.

Baggies fans watching the 3-2 defeat against Leicester City in the Birmingham Road End held up a card in the ninth minute, as the striker wore the number nine shirt, to produce the words Astle King.

A coroner ruled Astle's brain had been damaged as a result of heading heavy leather footballs throughout his career.

He was originally diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, but a re-examination of his brain found he had died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - a progressive degeneration caused by repeated head trauma.

Image caption Albion fans in the Birmingham Road End held up cards to spell out the words Astle King
Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeff Astle died from a brain condition normally associated with boxers
Image copyright ALLSPORT/Getty Images
Image caption Albion's players came out wearing a Jeff Astle tribute kit
Image caption The day was marked on the big screen in the Smethwick End

Astle's family has said the charitable foundation's ultimate goal was to open a convalescent home for ex-players suffering from conditions such as dementia.

The family, from Derbyshire, has long campaigned for more work to be done to understand the risks of heading footballs.

In August, the Football Association agreed to carry out research into head injuries in the sport as a result.

Daughter Dawn Astle said: "At the start of the season, (Albion chairman Jeremy) Peace promised to honour Dad and our efforts to raise awareness of this really important issue by dedicating a home game to him.

"We were absolutely lost for words when the Premier League allowed us to change, for that particular match, going back to the iconic kit of 1968, the white top, white shorts and the red socks.

"We think that says a lot about Dad's standing, not only as a player, as a man but also the gravity that football places on the issues that his death raised."

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