Shearer, whose former coaches Chris Nicholl and Terry McDermott are among hundreds of former professionals with dementia, presented a BBC inquiry into the matter and has pledged to donate his brain to the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group when he dies.
The Glasgow experts have discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a form of dementia associated with headbutts – in a disproportionate number of former athletes, including former England players Nobby Stiles and Jeff Astle.
Shearer is also calling on football authorities to introduce temporary rather than permanent concession replacements to give doctors more time to make a definitive assessment of players after a head injury in the same way as the minimum 10-minute head injury assessment in rugby.
“Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before that comes in,” he said.
Judith Gates, the co-founder of Head for Change, also made the decision to donate his brain along with her husband Bill Gates. Gates, a former Middlebrough player, retired at age 30 after persistent migraines and is now living with dementia. CTE can only be diagnosed in a post-mortem and has also been found in many former American football players.
Sunday’s benefit match follows a successful ‘no heading’ trial match last September and will be held again at National League North club Spennymoor Town FC. Tony Mowbray will kick off the match and Dr. Willie Stewart, the Glasgow neuropathologist who demonstrated the link with football’s dementia, will play in goal. Former players include Robbie Stockdale, Curtis Fleming, Colin Cooper, Tommy Butler, Darren Holloway and Tony McMahon, as well as ex-rugby players Alix Popham, Dan Scarborough and Stevie Ward.