For the past several years, the former Burnley, Blackburn Rovers, and Swansea City midfielder has been battling a debilitating disease. As he sits at home, communicating with the aid of a grid pad, a gadget programmed with recordings of his own voice, how is the 52-year-old feeling? “I’m not too bad actually. I keep expecting to suddenly hit the wall but I feel pretty good,” In an interview, he told BBC Radio Lancashire.
When Johnrose’s symptoms got worse, he was able to record his voice and use it to communicate with a screen that subsequently played back what he had to say. “Those who know me know how important it is for me to be heard. For a while that was really difficult,” he continued. “You only record a few words, and the technology does the rest. The advances in technology mean it can now be done much faster.
“I did it in about 40 minutes and obviously hoped I’d never need it.” In 2018, a year after learning of his diagnosis, John rose opened up about it on BBC Radio Lancashire. Hearing how incapacitating his illness truly is and how devastating it has been for him was a sobering experience. He is now restricted to a wheelchair due to the progress that has taken place.
He’s still got a sense of humour, though. “I’m certainly aware of little changes, mainly to do with movements and getting comfortable. But I really think I’ve been comparatively fortunate,” he said. “My mind is as positive as ever. I’m still aware that I might die at any time. But that would be the case irrespective of having MND. So yes, things have changed. But I don’t really think about them.
“I’m more concerned with the constant saliva and constant constipation – but there you go, could be worse.” The game of football may be bittersweet, especially for someone like Johnrose, who had a distinguished career in the Football League. Is he looking forward to the forthcoming season, given that Preston and Blackpool will be joining Burnley and Blackburn in the Championship this season, two of his previous clubs?
“I actually can’t believe I’m saying this but I really can’t wait,” he added. “That’s what mental health issues have done to me. I actually started watching and enjoying football and now even miss it. “So as gutted as I was to see Burnley relegated [from the Premier League], it’s made things more interesting.”