ENGLAND World Cup hero Steve Thompson has revealed that he can't remember the historic 2003 triumph, having been diagnosed with early onset dementia.
The rugby star, 42, started the final Down Under at hooker.
But after being diagnosed with the disease, he now cannot remember playing a part in the victory.
He told The Guardian: "I don't really remember.
"Like, the World Cup period, I can't even remember being in Australia.
"And I'm watching the game and I'm just thinking, it's as if I'm watching the England team now.
"I'm on the pitch – but I cannot remember being there at all."
He added: "Knowing what I know now, I wish that I had never turned professional.
“I went from working on a building site and training twice a week to training every day, sometimes twice a day.
“I really wished that I had ended my career earlier, maybe my diagnosis might not be so bleak."
WHAT IS EARLY-ONSET DEMENTIA?
THE word 'dementia' is the name for a set of symptoms that includes memory loss, difficulty thinking, problem solving and struggling with language.
A person with dementia will often experience changes in their mood and behaviour.
Dementia is often triggered by diseases that damage the brain, including Alzheimer's disease as well as strokes.
The disease is thought to be triggered by a build-up of proteins that form abnormal structures, known as 'plaques', in the brain.
It's a progressive disease, which means that gradually over time, more parts of the brain are damaged.
As this happens more symptoms emerge and get worse.
Dementia is considered to be 'early onset' when someone is diagnosed before the age of 65.
A study last year found that football and rugby players are six times more likely to have a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is linked to repetitive brain trauma.
Thompson, who won 73 England caps, also says he suffers panic attack and forgets his wife Steph’s name sometimes.
He added: “I’d rather have just had a normal life. I’m just normal. Some people go for the big lights, whereas I never wanted that.
"Would I do it again? No, I wouldn’t. I can’t remember it. I’ve got no feelings about it. It sounds awful, because lads are going to have to retire at 22 or 23.
"But trust me, it’s better finishing then than to be where I am now.”
Thompson has also called on RFU decision makers to take steps to protect their players.
We treat them like bits of meat that just have to train and do what we tell them to do, and when they're no good we get rid of them
He continued: "I don't want the game to stop, but it's just everyone at the top looking down, saying the main asset of this lovely game is the players.
"We've got to make sure we treat them like that.
"We treat them like bits of meat that just have to train and do what we tell them to do, and when they're no good we get rid of them – and that's what happens.
"They're all human beings, and we've got to make sure they have a proper life after the sport as well."
Thompson is one of a number of retired rugby stars that are taking legal action against the RFU.
The former Northampton Saints stalwart, as well as Michael Lipman and former Wales No8 Alix Popham, are all named as test cases in action being brought against the RFU, World Rugby and Welsh Rugby Union.
According to the Mail, British law firm Rylands Legal are in contact with over 100 other former players as part of the historic lawsuit.
Former players have also launched a 15-point charter of changes that they'd like to see introduced, in order to protect the safety of the next generation of professionals.
Among the proposed changes are limits on the number of contact sessions per year that players can participate in – as well as 'better sideline testing' and 'concussion spotters'.
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