Sky Sports icon Chris Kamara has recalled how fans thought he was 'drunk' on television before he found out about his speech apraxia diagnosis.
The former matchday reporter revealed in March 2022 that he had received news he was suffering as a result of the condition. But 'Kammy' had attempted to put off the inevitable after noticing differences in his speech were affecting his work for some time prior to leaving Sky Sports last year.
And ex-Portsmouth and Swindon midfielder Kamara, 65, has recounted how viewers would raise concerns with his lack of coherence as things worsened. It reached the point where some worried he was drunk on air, which contributed to him accepting he had to get checked out.
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"My words weren’t flowing properly. What had once seemed so easy was becoming increasingly hard work," Kamara wrote for the Mirror, in an extract from his book 'KAMMY: My Unbelievable Life by Chris Kamara'. "I noticed also that people were starting to comment on Twitter after games.
"After I had reported on a match at Rotherham, one person asked, ‘What’s up with Kammy? Is he drunk?’
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"‘Has he had a stroke?’ wondered another. As ever, if anyone asked how I was, I’d insist I was okay. And actually every now and again a good day would come along to fool me that I was worrying unduly – everything was going to be all right."
Kamara had 'spent a year keeping his fears to himself' before making an appointment with his GP, mainly out of fear he was suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. A visit to neurosurgeon Dr. Oliver Lily educated him that he was actually suffering from apraxia, and he soon went public with the news.
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Since opening up about his diagnosis and the struggle that comes with it, Kammy has helped shed light on an illness many won't have heard of prior to his case. He's been the subject of an ITV tell-all special and has even made his return to the media spotlight in a lesser capacity – largely thanks to the help of friend and colleague Ben Shephard.
Although his days on Sky Sports may be over, Kamara continues to be an inspiration of a different kind post-diagnosis. KAMMY: My Unbelievable Life by Chris Kamara tells his story in full and is available from November 9.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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