It is 60 years since Bobby Moore received the Jules Rimet trophy from Queen Elizabeth after England defeated West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley. The triumph remains arguably the greatest moment in English sporting history and made heroes of the 11 players wearing red that day.

Three of those players − Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson − are now suffering from Alzheimer's, with fellow World Cup winner Jack Charlton admitting he is also suffering from symptoms.

Anyone who played in that era remembers the old leather footballs and how they became even heavier when they were wet. Families of players from that era have pointed to the ball as the cause of later symptoms.

When IBTimes UK spoke to Dawn Astle − whose father was former West Brom striker Jeff Astle, who was famous for his heading ability and later died from "head trauma" in 2002 − she said there were more retired players who would die as a result of heading footballs. "Dad can't be the only one. Alzheimer's was the easy diagnosis, if you like. Who wants to say football could be a killer?"

Neuroscientist Dr Michael Grey said there was strong circumstantial evidence to suggest this was the case but said there must be more research to prove a link.

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30 July 1966: The Queen presents the World Cup trophy to the England captain, Bobby Moore AFP

"People frequently talk about these heavy leather balls when they were wet and there is truth in that − there is much more mass in that ball," Dr Grey said. "But these lighter balls can still strike the head with sufficient velocity that we are getting that shaking of the brain.

"So I think the heavy ball argument is a bit of a red herring. Put that together with the fact that it is the challenges and getting hit by something else that's the bigger issue and the ball argument is absurd.

"There is a lot of opinion but not a lot of good science behind it. The truth is we don't know if heading the ball, which is something we call a sub-concussive injury, we don't know if they are leading to long-term damage.

"There is very good circumstantial evidence to suggest that this is the case but we really do need more research in the area and less opinion before we know the answer."