Former Doncaster Rovers boss Dave Cusack has opened up about his battles with severe memory loss – caused by head injuries during his time playing football.
Cusack, 62, says that numerous blows to the head during his career have left him with severe short-term memory loss – and he struggles to remember things on a daily basis.
The tough-tackling defender, who was in charge of Rovers between 1985 and 1987, spoke to The Sun about how elbows to the head from oppositon players have left him suffering from a neurocognitive brain disorder.
The former centre-half, who clocked up 512 pro appearances in a 15-year career, says his condition was caused by clashes during his playing days.
He told the newspaper: “The neuro specialists have said it’s the result of constant head traumas.
“Well, the only head traumas I suffered were in the shape of centre-forwards’ elbows.
“They are what’s done this to me — and others as well.
“People keep going on about the damage heading those heavy footballs has done to players. But there were no laces in the balls when I played and the balls were light.
“The damage to my brain has been caused by the countless elbows to head centre-forwards used to give me.”
He said: “The main thing is forgetfulness.
“My short-term memory is so terrible the PFA send me two diaries each year because I have to write everything down. I keep one with me all the time.
“People will think it’s terrible for me but it’s worse for my kids having to listen to me repeat things because I’ve forgotten what I’ve said.”
He said: “I once had 8½ hours of micro-surgery after one striker done me in a game. The physio came on after seeing the blood.
“These days I would have been subbed, taken into the stadium’s well-equipped medical centre, checked over and given the week off.
“Back then, it was different. There was only one sub for starters and none of the care there is now. So I was just taken to the dressing room, stitched up, patched up and sent back out to finish the game.
“Defenders would get elbowed in the head in training all the time. It was scandalous looking back now.
“Every manager I played for all told our strikers the same thing before game — first chance you get, make sure you let their centre-half have it.
“And we all knew what ‘have it’ meant. It meant elbow him.
“It didn’t matter if you were concussed, if a manager had already used his one substitute then you played on. Nobody knew then the damage it was doing.
He said: “I was only diagnosed officially in the last year or so. But looking back I’ve suffered with it for years.
“One of my former partners used to think I was taking the p*** out of her because I would forget things she had told me an hour before.
“At the time we didn’t think anything of it. She just thought I was being blokeish and had not listened to her.
“But I had listened. I just couldn’t remember what she had said.
“But then as time went on it started getting worse and the PFA sent me to hospital for tests.”
Born in Thurcroft, he began his career with Sheffield Wednesday, making 95 league appearances for the Owls before moving to Southend Unitedin 1978 for a then club record £50,000.
A spell at Millwall followed before he moved to Doncaster Rovers as player-manager in 1985, replacing Billy Bremner.
With Doncaster facing relegation by the 1987-88 season, Cusack left the club and took over at Rotherham United but left the Millers after a slide down the league. Both Rovers and Rotherham ended up being relegated.