Former Norwich City star Mike Sutton dies aged 76 after living with dementia

Former England international Chris Sutton (left) with his father, Mike (right) - TWITTER:CHRIS SUTTON
Former England international Chris Sutton (left) with his father, Mike (right) - TWITTER:CHRIS SUTTON

Mike Sutton, the former Norwich City footballer and father of ex-England striker Chris Sutton, has died at the age of 76 after living with dementia for the last decade of his life.

As well as playing as a midfielder for Norwich, Sutton represented Chester City, Carlisle United and Great Yarmouth and was also a club cricketer with Drayton.

Announcing his father’s death, which happened on Boxing Day, Chris Sutton said that he was “my hero” and “a great sportsman, teacher, husband, dad and grandad”.

Mike Sutton had taught biology and PE at Hellesdon High School in Norwich after his playing career and his younger son, John, is currently coaching at Greenock Morton following a long playing career spent largely in the Scottish leagues.

Chris Sutton has been calling for football to address the national game’s dementia crisis over recent years - a campaign that has gathered huge momentum this year following the death in October of Nobby Stiles and then news that Sir Bobby Charlton is also living with dementia.

In an interview with The Telegraph in 2017, Chris Sutton outlined the “national disgrace” of how hundreds of former players, including his father, were in desperate need of 24-hour care but that families were being left “to rot and strain and stress”.

Jim McLean, the legendary former Dundee United manager, also died on Boxing Day after living with dementia during the last years of his life.

It was also announced that Penny Taylor, the wife of former Portsmouth and Gillingham wing-half Rod Taylor, had died on Boxing Day. Taylor was the second British footballer after Jeff Astle to be publicly diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy - a type of dementia associated with repeated head impacts - following his death at the age of 74 in 2018.

Rachel Taylor, Rod and Penny’s daughter, is convinced that her mother’s own subsequent decline - she was diagnosed with Parkinson's and Motor Neurone Disease - was triggered by the stress of looking after her father. “There are all these wives and children desperately trying to cope,” she said. “Football needs to create a fund to help former players and their families. I am not talking about being passed around and jumping through hoops for six months. Football has got the money. This is an industrial disease. It should just be done now.”

In 2016, Telegraph Sport launched its campaign, “Tackle Football’s Dementia Scandal”, successfully calling for landmark research which was eventually completed last year by the University of Glasgow into the prevalence of dementia in football. It showed that former professionals were 3.5 times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease.

The campaign has since called for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes, heading restrictions in training, a global taskforce to consider how football could evolve to mitigate risk, the recognition of dementia in football as an industrial disease, comprehensive care for former players and further independent research.