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Tributes to former Blackburn Rovers defender
Updated 12:59pm Monday 21st April 2014 in News
A FORMER Blackburn Rovers defender whose Alzheimer’s campaign was backed by a host of celebrities has died, aged 65.
Frank Kopel player for Rovers from 1969 to 1972 and went on to become a legend for Dundee United.
But six years ago, the former full back was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzhemier’s, leading to his family fighting for free care to be extended to under 65s with the disease.
He died at his home in Kirriemuir on Wednesday morning with his wife, Amanda, and son, Scott, at his bedside.
The campaign for ‘Frank’s Law’ won the backing of TV star Lorraine Kelly, Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross and former footballers from his playing days.
And since his death, Amanda has vowed to carry on her fight as, until his 65th birthday last month, the Kopels were forced to pay for council care services costing around £400 a month.
The policy was described by Amanda as ‘discriminatory’ and Scottish Parliament Health Secretary Alex Neil has since suggested he may close the ‘loophole’ in the law that denies younger dementia sufferers free care.
Born in Falkirk in 1949, Frank first signed for Manchester United as a sixteen-year-old schoolboy. He made his debut at Old Trafford in a game against Burnley and played for Matt Busby alongside the likes of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton.
He signed for Rovers for £25,000 in March, 1969, but only managed 25 appearances before signing for Dundee United in 1972. Former teammate Derek Fazackerley, who also began his Rovers career in 1969, said he was saddened by the news of Mr Kopel’s death.
He said: “He didn’t play many games for us but he was a good man who always had a smile on his face and was very helpful. I liked him.
“When he signed for us from Manchester United we were a bit in awe of him.
“But for whatever reason it didn’t work out for him on the pitch and he moved on.”
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