Centerback Thomas Albert Parker played for the Reds 90 years ago, from 1930-32, and was renowned for his ability to lead old-fashioned heavy leather balls almost half the length of the pitch .
Thomas, born in Eccles, died in 1964 at the age of only 54, with a factor of “cerebral thrombosis”.
His son Stuart has now spoken in an interview with The Mirror, after a damning report on dementia in football criticized FA leaders and the players’ union for their inability to act.
Thomas played for the Red Devils early in his football career from 1930-32, before moving to lower league clubs Bristol City and Carlisle United before ending his career at Stalybridge Celtic in 1935.
Stuart, 74, said: “I suspect he was one of the first to hit the ball.
“When he played, they were heavy, like medicine balls.
“He complained of headaches, but no one had heard of brain damage from the head. “
Now, nearly a century later, a report from Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee says “urgent action” is needed to reduce the risk of brain damage.
It comes after a campaign led by Dawn Astle, whose father of West Bromwich Albion hero Jeff has died at age 59 of Cape Town dementia.
She believes thousands of former players have been affected by chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain degeneration caused by repeated head trauma.
Now, Stuart is backing his calls for more victim support.
He said of his father: “After his career he was a carpenter but still had headaches.
“We always thought it was because he was a hard worker. When he died he was in bed with the flu.
“We heard a bang. He fell.
“In the hospital, he was dazed, dribbling out of his mouth.
“The cause of death was cerebral thrombosis and bronchopneumonia. Dad wasn’t… old when he died. What happened to him affected me my whole life.
“Now there are loads of former players who need help. With all the money in the game, more needs to be done.
It is already shaping up to be a busy summer for Manchester United when it comes to transfers. So make sure you don’t miss out on any transfer stories, analyzes or exclusive features by signing up to receive United email updates straight to your inbox.
You can register here – it only takes a few seconds.
Last week, football organizations said both amateur and professional players will be limited to 10 “top strength” headers per week in training.
Dawn, who heads the Jeff Astle Foundation, said: “Football needs to set up a trust fund to take care of the players who are suffering now.
“The Industrial Injury Advisory Council must accept that dementia in football is an industrial disease. “
For the latest Manchester Evening News email updates, click here.