Former Scotland defender Gordon McQueen dies aged 70

The former St Mirren, Leeds and Manchester United star was diagnosed with vascular dementia in early 2021.

Former Scotland defender Gordon McQueen has died at the age of 70.

McQueen, whose 16-year playing career during the 1970s and 80s included spells at St Mirren, Leeds and Manchester United, was diagnosed with vascular dementia in early 2021.

A statement issued on behalf of the McQueen family said: “It is with the heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father and grandfather.

“We hope that as well as creating many great football memories for club and his country, he will be remembered for the love, laughter and bravery that characterised his career and his family life – not least during his recent battles with ill health.

“Our house was always a buzz of friends, family and football and this constant support sustained him as he fought bravely against the cruel impact of dementia.

“The disease may have taken him too soon and while we struggle to comprehend life without him, we celebrate a man who lived life to the full: the ultimate entertainer, the life and soul of every occasion, the heart and soul of every dressing room, the most fun dad, husband and grandfather we could ever have wished for.

“The family would like to express our huge thanks to the wonderful staff at Herriot Hospice Homecare for their outstanding care; the utterly incredible Marie Curie team who were there with us all until the end; and Head for Change for the emotional support and respite care.

“Finally, to our wonderful friends and family who are a constant source of support we send our utmost love and gratitude.

“You will remain in our hearts always, Yvonne, Hayley, Anna, Eddie, Rudi, Etta and Ayla.”

Gordon McQueen in action for Scotland during a European Championship qualifier against Belgium in 1979.SNS Group

McQueen, 6ft 3in, was among the outstanding central defenders of his era, winning 30 caps for Scotland between 1974 and 1981.

He came to prominence in England following his move to Leeds from St Mirren in 1972, helping the Yorkshire club to league title success in 1973-74 and playing a key role in their run to the European Cup final in 1975.

Lou Macari, who played with McQueen at Manchester United, said McQueen’s illness “robbed us of the real Gordon”.

McQueen’s daughter, Hayley, told of her heartbreak earlier this year at seeing her father living with dementia.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, she revealed that her father was “bedridden” by the “cruel” condition but still recognised family and friends.

She said: “He knows who we all are, which is weird because I still see dementia with not a clue what’s going on or who anybody is, so I quite like that fact from a selfish point of view.

“But part of me thinks if he didn’t know who we were, it might not be so hard to think of the day when he has to go into a home.

“It’s like he’s locked in himself.”

Tributes paid by McQueen’s former clubs

A message from Manchester United said that everyone at the club was “heartbroken” by news of McQueen’s death and said that flags at Old Trafford were being flown at half mast “as a mark of respect to Gordon and in tribute to his service, on and off the field”.

McQueen was part of United’s 1983 FA Cup-winning team, when Brighton & Hove Albion were defeated in a replay at Wembley. He played 229 times for the club, scoring six times.

Leeds United, who signed McQueen from St Mirren in 1972, expressed their sadness and said the thoughts of everyone at the club were with McQueen’s family and friends.

The defender spent six years at Elland Road, where he won the league title and was part of the team that reached the European Cup final.

A statement from St Mirren, McQueen’s first senior club, read: “St Mirren FC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Gordon McQueen.

“Gordon played 77 times for Saints between 1970-72 and would later return to Love Street for a spell during his coaching career.

“Our deepest condolences are with Gordon’s loved ones at this sad time.”

The Scottish FA tweeted: “The thoughts of everyone at the Scottish FA are with the family and friends of former Scotland international Gordon McQueen, who has sadly passed away at the age of 70,”

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