By David Williams
Cardiff City have paid tribute to their former Wales defender Keith Pontin, who has died aged 64.
Pontin, who made his Bluebirds debut on the opening day of the 1976-77 season and won two senior caps for his country in 1980, was diagnosed with dementia when he was 59.
Cardiff posted on Twitter on Sunday afternoon: “It’s with great sadness that the club has learned of the passing of former Bluebird, Keith Pontin.
“Keith made close to 200 City appearances between 1976 & 1983, earning two @FAWales caps.
“Our sincerest condolences go out to Keith’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Pontin’s family were convinced that his condition was linked to his playing career.
In an interview with the BBC in 2018, his wife Janet said: “I think maybe in those days the impact wasn’t known.
“A lot of players in those days gave their lives to their clubs and nobody would have anticipated that this could be the impact years later.”
Research published last year found former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of a neurodegenerative disorder than members of the general population.
A 22-month research project by the University of Glasgow’s Brain Injury Group also discovered there was a five-fold increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s, a four-fold increase in motor neurone disease and a two-fold increase in Parkinson’s.
It’s with great sadness that the club has learned of the passing of former #Bluebird, Keith Pontin.
Keith made close to 200 City appearances between 1976 & 1983, earning two @FAWales caps.
Our sincerest condolences go out to Keith’s family & friends at this sad time. pic.twitter.com/2j33RWM2GA
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) August 2, 2020
The Glasgow University study also found former footballers were less likely to die of other common problems, such as heart disease and some cancers, and lived on average three and a quarter years longer.
Dr Carol Routledge, the director of research of Alzheimer’s UK, has said the benefits of playing football outweigh the disadvantages.
“Dementia is caused by complex brain diseases and our risk is influenced by our genes, lifestyle and health,” she said.
“The best evidence suggests that good heart health is the best way to keep the brain healthy, so when played safely, a kickaround with friends is still a great way to stay mentally and physically active.”