Ex-England footballer Sue Lopez has blamed her dementia on heading the ball during her career.
Ms Lopez, 74, who played for England between 1969 and 1979, told the BBC her diagnosis in 2018 made her feel ‘sick’.
She believes the memory-robbing disease was a result of her suffering concussion several times from heading the ball.
Research has linked moderate and severe traumatic brain injury to a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia in the future.
Scientists suggest repeated small head impacts may be to blame for professional footballers being diagnosed with dementia more often.
Ms Lopez is one of many urging for a heading ban in youth football in response to concerning findings of major studies.
Speaking to the BBC, Ms Lopez said: ‘I think my dementia has been caused by the heading of a football.
‘I’m always hoping people are being more careful now, not letting young kids head the ball.’
Ms Lopez, who was made an MBE in 2000 for services to women’s football, is the latest sports player to urge a heading ban in under 12s.
AFC Bournemouth is the only Premier League club of 20 approached by the BBC to say they have a ban in place.
It follows reports this month that The Scottish Football Association will soon implement rules to stop primary school children in Scotland from heading the ball.
Footballers suffer repeated blows to their head, mainly through heading leather footballs and colliding with other players.
Leading scientists have found such injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a crippling condition which can cause dementia.
Former England and West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle died in 2002, aged 59, from CTE. He was left unable to recognise his own children.
An inquest ruled that Astle’s CTE was caused by heading footballs – the first British professional footballer to be officially confirmed to have done so.
Three of the nine surviving members of England’s 1966 winning World Cup team have Alzheimer’s – Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson.
Stiles’ son two years ago criticised the FA for failing to properly investigate a link between the sport and degenerative brain disease.