Behind Brendon Ormsby are a series of words taped to the kitchen wall. There's 'Minnie,' the name of his beloved but yappy dog. 'Wendy,' his lovely wife. 'Football,' his sport.
They are there because after a stroke in 2013, Brendon has had to relearn how to talk. Six years later he still cannot speak, apart from two names which roll off the tongue. 'Aston Villa and Leeds United,' says Wendy, who cares for him full-time. 'They're the two things he can say.'
Over the course of our hour together, Brendon tries a few others — 'Yeah', 'I know', 'F***', 'Sorry' — but none are as discernible as the two clubs he represented in his heyday.
Brendon Ormsby stands next to his list of words that have been taped up for him in his kitchen
Ormsby played 117 times for Aston Villa as a centre-back and also featured for Leeds United
Brendon is only 59 and a wonderfully warm character. The former centre half is welcoming, greeting Sportsmail like an old friend at his home in Selby, North Yorkshire. Yet times are hard for the Ormsby family. With limited support from the Professional Footballers' Association, Wendy's hair started to fall out, having developed alopecia due to stress.
She already had her suspicions but last week's report — confirming a connection between football and neuro-degenerative disease — has left her in no doubt about the cause of her husband's deterioration.
He and wife Wendy hold a photo of his celebrations with Leeds fans after a win against QPR
'He would head the ball if it was two feet off the ground,' Wendy explains, wiping her eyes. 'An old-fashioned centre half. He'd stay for hours after a training session to practise heading.
'When he was younger, he never used to moan to me. But I was talking to Gary Williams (a former team-mate of Brendon's) and he said when he was at Villa he got headaches.
'I want to stress: Brendon loved football and still loves football. He went into non-league because he loved it that much, but he had to stop playing because he got detached retinas. Boxers get that. Even then we had to force him. He used to run the ex-Leeds players' matches — he knew he couldn't head the ball but sometimes he couldn't help himself. We'd go mad.'
The defender battles for the ball with Cyrille Regis in Leeds' FA Cup semi with Coventry in 1987
Brendon lets out a cheeky smile. Both believe heading the ball contributed to his current state, and Wendy hopes last week's findings will act as a 'wake-up call' to the PFA. Looking at her husband, whom she met at school, she smiles, points to his forehead and says: 'He never looked like that when I first married him. It's how the ball shaped him!'sonos sonos One