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Lenny Johnrose: Former Burnley and Blackburn midfielder dies after MND fight

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Former footballer Len Johnrose, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2017, has died aged 52, his charity said.

Johnrose, who worked at Bury for six years between 1993 and 1999 and also played for Blackburn, Hartlepool, Burnley and Swansea, helped raise funds for the MND Association after his diagnosis and campaigned for better player safety.

He also sought to raise awareness of the disease among current players through his work with Project 92, after the 2019 FIELD study found a four-fold increased risk of developing MND in footballers compared to the general population.

Johnrose told the PA news agency in November 2020: “The (increased risk) should have caused massive shockwaves, but it hardly caused a wave. We really need to spread this message.”

The Len Johnrose Trust tweeted on Monday: “We are heartbroken to report that our leader, Len Johnrose, passed away this morning.

“Len was an incredibly proud husband and father. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time.”

There is a 1 in 300 risk that a person will develop MND in their lifetime. There are still no clear answers as to the causes, and there is no cure.

Johnrose, who is survived by his wife Nadine and their children Chanel, Elizabeth and Patrick, helped launch the #IceFoot92 challenge last year to raise funds for the MND Association, which asked contestants to freeze their feet for 92 seconds to dip in ice cold water.

He told PA in October 2019 he was “sick” that there were no restrictions on headers in children’s football and said sporting authorities “were taking risks with people’s lives”.

A policy has since been put in place recommending the avoidance of all flashovers in under-11s football training, while the Football Association is testing full removal of flashovers in select U-12 competitions this season.

Johnrose’s former clubs Blackburn, Burnley and Hartlepool have tweeted their condolences to his friends and family, as has Swansea.

Johnrose scored the third goal in a 4-2 win over Hull in May 2003 that secured the Swans league status.

The MND Association released a statement Monday afternoon paying tribute to Johnrose.

“Len has been living in public with this brutal illness after deciding to announce his diagnosis in the summer of 2018. After that, he selflessly devoted much time to raising awareness,” the statement said.

“Len’s infectious smile, sense of humor, pragmatic approach to life and determination to do whatever it takes to work for people with MND made him a very popular figure within the MND community. He will be greatly missed.

“We would like to extend our condolences to Lens’ wife Nadine, his three children Chanel, Elizabeth and Patrick, his family and friends and thank him for their unwavering support.”

The Association’s Director of External Affairs, Chris James, added: “I distinctly remember the summer of 2018 when Len Johnrose first spoke about being diagnosed with motor neuron disease and his story immediately garnered national television coverage and newspaper headlines.

“Len helped us in almost every aspect of our work, responding positively to every request and invitation and dedicating his time as Patron of the Central and East Lancashire Support Group to help both nationally and locally.

“We are incredibly grateful to him and his family for all of their help over the years and we will continue to support Lens’ family as they process this very sad news.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/len-johnrose-dies-age-mnd-b2145460.html Lenny Johnrose: Former Burnley and Blackburn midfielder dies after MND fight

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