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Manchester United, Scotland great Denis Law has dementia

Manchester United legend and former Ballon d'Or-winner Denis Law has been diagnosed with dementia, it was announced on Thursday.

The 81-year-old won two league titles, a European Cup and an FA Cup during his 11-year spell at Old Trafford, and is one third of the club's "Holy Trinity" alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and the late George Best.

"I am at the point where I feel I want to be open about my condition. I have been diagnosed with 'mixed dementia,' which is more than one type of dementia, in my case this being Alzheimer's and Vascular dementia," Law said in a statement.

"This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, and the long periods of isolation have certainly not helped. It is an incredibly challenging and problematic disease and I have witnessed many friends go through this.

"You hope that it won't happen to you, even make jokes about it whilst ignoring the early signs because you don't want it to be true. You get angry, frustrated, confused and then worried, worried for your family, as they will be the ones dealing with it.

"However, the time has come to tackle this head on, excuse the pun. I recognise how my brain is deteriorating and how my memory evades me when I don't want it to and how this causes me distress in situations that are beyond my control.

"I do understand what is happening and that is why I want to address my situation now whilst I am able, because I know there will be days when I don't understand, and I hate the thought of that right now.

"In the height of the pandemic, I said I hoped that if one positive was to come out of it, it would be that it would make people kinder to each other, so that's what I am hoping for now. I don't want people to be saddened if I forget places, people, or dates because you need to remember I enjoyed all those memories and I am lucky to have experienced what I have in my life...a loving and supportive family, a great career doing what I loved and getting paid to do it and lifelong friends.

"I have good days and bad days and aim to take each day as it comes adjusting my lifestyle accordingly. I hung up my football boots a long time ago and now it's time to put my signing days behind me too, so apologies to anyone who has sent me anything but I am just not able."

Law remains a firm favourite at Old Trafford -- there is a statue of him at the Stretford End of the stadium -- despite two spells with rivals Manchester City either side of his United career.

He is the club's third all-time leading scorer with 237 goals and was named European Footballer of the Year in 1964. Law missed United winning their first European Cup in 1968 after injury ruled him out of the 4-1 win over Benfica at Wembley.

Law enjoyed an impressive international career with Scotland, earning 55 appearances and scoring a joint-record 30 goals. He finished his career by representing Scotland at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.

"I am trying to be positive and determined to continue watching my club, Manchester United at Old Trafford, hopefully this will be a season of success and I am excited by the new signings that Ole and the club have made," he added.

"Also, where possible I would like to continue my involvement with the 'Denis Law Legacy Trust,' the work the staff and volunteers do in the community is amazing and it makes a real difference.

"I know the road ahead will be hard, demanding, painful and ever changing and so ask for understanding and patience as this will not be an easy journey especially for the people who love you the most.

"As a family, we have been offered support by Alzheimer's Society and have chosen to fundraise for the charity to help support its crucial work. Alzheimer's Society's services have never been in more need, used over 5.5 million times since March 2020, and are a lifeline to thousands of families who are also facing a dementia diagnosis.

"The charity is also doing amazing work with the sports industry, with its Sport United Against Dementia campaign, which I fully support. This really could make the biggest difference to former players, players, and fans alike."

United posted a message of support on social media which read: "Everybody is with you in this battle, Denis. We are in admiration of your openness, your bravery and your humility to be open about your dementia diagnosis."

Law's former United teammate Nobby Stiles died in 2020 having been suffering with advanced dementia.

Fellow Ballon d'Or-winner Charlton revealed he was suffering from dementia earlier that year and ex-United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said it is his "duty" to continue raise dementia awareness within the game.