Dundee United legend Frank Kopel dies aged 65

DUNDEE United football legend Frank Kopel died today, aged 65.

Ex-Dundee Utd footballer Frank Kopel, pictured with wife Amanda in February, has died. Picture: SNS

Kopel, who had been battling with dementia, made 407 appearances and lifted two trophies for the Tannadice side over 10 years.

His wife Amanda, who had looked after her husband since he was diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s in 2009, had been campaigning for free care to be extended to sufferers of the disease aged under 65.

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She appeared before the public petitions committee at the Scottish Parliament to detail the strain put on carers whose loved ones had early-onset dementia. Last month Alex Neil, MSP, health minister, visited the couple at their home in Kirriemuir and pledged to bring their concerns to parliament.

Dundee United's Frank Kopel playing in 1981. Picture: SNS

Last December Mr Neil said he was “very sympathetic” to the issues raised by Mrs Kopel concerning the “loophole” in the law which denies younger dementia sufferers free care and promised that the Scottish Government would work with the NHS and the benefits system to ensure that all dementia patients are treated equally.

Mrs Kopel described the age-limit policy as “discriminatory”.

Speaking last year Mrs Kopel said: “Does it matter what date is on your birth certificate. It’s the same disease, regardless of your age.

“It pains me to say it, but time is running out. His deterioration is very rapid now. What I’m trying to do [with the campaign] is not going to help Frankie but, if it benefits other people by making their quality of life that bit better, it will have been worth it.”

The campaign won the backing of celebrities such as TV star Lorraine Kelly, Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross and former footballers from Kopel’s footballing days at Dundee United and Manchester United.

Born in Falkirk in 1949, Kopel first signed for Manchester United as a sixteen-year-old schoolboy and went on to play for Matt Busby alongside players such as George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law.

After transferring to Dundee United in 1972 he quickly became a favourite of the fans and had a supporters’ group named after him: Frank Kopel’s Travelling Shindig.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Cabinet Secretary was grateful for the time that Mrs Kopel took to discuss her campaign with him, and he is carefully considering the points she raised as the Scottish Government develops policy in this area.

“Our consultation on potential carers legislation closes on 16 April, and this new legislation will be a central plank to how we improve outcomes for carers and the loved ones they care for.

“We are also working in partnership with COSLA, regulators, and the independent sector to ensure that all vulnerable people receive the care, compassion, support and dignity they need and deserve.”

Kopel is survived by his wife, their son, Scott.

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