Football: Last days in nursing home

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The Independent Online
THE DEATH of Sir Alf Ramsey came 11 months after he suffered a stroke which left him needing constant nursing care. Sir Alf's wife, Vicky, who reported his death to the registry office in Ipswich, Suffolk was with him when he died at a nursing home in the town.

He had been rumoured for several years to be suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, but his family, mindful of respecting his wish for privacy, always refused to talk about his apparently deteriorating mental healh.

Sir Alf spent two months on a general ward at Ipswich Hospital before being moved in August to nearby Minsmere House, a specialist unit for geriatric patients. He left the unit several months ago to go to a publicly run nursing home.

Concern for Sir Alf's health was first expressed in 1993 after he failed to turn up for a memorial service in honour of his World Cup winning captain, Bobby Moore, who died of cancer aged 51.

His adoptive daughter, Tania Jauch, who lives in the United States, denied at the time that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and insisted he was in "good health". But she admitted that Sir Alf had a poor memory and was prone to forgetting things.

Sir Alf rarely gave interviews, preferring instead to keep busy in the garden of his unpretentious house in Ipswich, which was purchased with his bonus for winning the World Cup and which remained his home until his death. He was also fond of golf, once playing up to three times a week with close friends, nearly always at the Rushmere Golf Club, on public heathland near Ipswich.

In 1995 he recalled: "To this day my overriding memory is the joy I brought to my team and country. I love three things in life - my wife, my country and football.

"Football, however, has passed me by. I no longer watch much on television, so I content myself with the fact that I've been lucky to have experienced being at the very top."

Bobby Robson, a former manager of Ipswich Town as well as Sir Alf, offered to pay for him to have private treatment after fears were expressed about his condition.

Robson said his former secretary, Pat Godbold, who was also Sir Alf's secretary for eight years, had telephoned him in tears to report her concerns about the care he was receiving. Robson said it was a "crying shame" that Sir Alf was being "left to suffer on a public ward" and should be treated with more dignity.

But at the time Lady Ramsey said: "Sir Alf is getting the care he needs. I have complete confidence in his consultant and the staff who are involved in helping his recovery, and would not consider alternative treatment from any source."

Robson said of his former secretary's visit to Sir Alf: "She went to see him in a public ward and they had to find him because he was wandering around not knowing where he was because of his illness. She was told that it was Alzheimer's. She told me that the staff do not have the time to spend looking after him because they have so many other patients."