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Chris Kamara talks about memoir ‘Kammy: My Unbelievable Life’

Health and Mental Health

Chris Kamara talks about memoir ‘Kammy: My Unbelievable Life’

Today on Good Morning Britain, football legend Chris Kamara joined his good friend Ben Shephard alongside Susanna Reid to speak for the first time about his brand new memoir ‘Kammy: My Unbelievable Life’ and share an update on living with apraxia of speech. 

Discussing his diagnosis, Kammy, as he’s affectionately known to many, explained: “I didn’t know what it was. I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid… I thought that was it and it was affecting my voice. A thyroid expert Peter Taylor said it normally doesn’t affect your voice, you need to get another opinion. 

“So I went to see a brain specialist and I was only in there for two minutes speaking to him, and he said you’ve got apraxia of speech, where the connection between the brain and the mouth breaks down and you can’t say the words, your mouth can’t control itself to say the words properly.” 

The former footballer said: “The [words] come out very slow so I thought that defined me. So, my apologies to everybody who’s got a speech condition because it doesn’t define who you are. I get upset talking about it because I was in denial, I was ashamed that I couldn’t speak.” 

In an emotional moment, Susanna took Chris’ hand and told him: “You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of honestly, you’ve done so much to inspire other people. I know Ben, you’ve had experiences haven’t you, where you’ve spoken to other people who are no longer ashamed of what they’re experiencing because of the way [Chris has] spoken out about it.” 

Kammy replied: “That’s been the good thing about all this. Ben was behind me, coming out and doing the documentary and talking about it. Once I’d spoken about it and got it off my chest and realised that everyone is behind you, family, friends, they’re all with you all the way no matter what happens.” 

Ben added: “It’s an interesting thing though isn’t it Kam because I can sit down, and your friends and family can sit down, and say ‘Kammy it doesn’t change how we feel about you, it doesn’t change how much we want you to keep doing what you’re doing’, but you need to understand that.” 

Ben continued: “I have spent years trying to get Kammy to think about what he says before he says it because he usually gets himself into trouble and all of a sudden, you had too much time to think about what you were saying! “I think the shame piece is the thing that strikes me so hard, especially when I see you getting upset as one of my best mates.” 

Discussing the impact on his life, Kammy said: “I didn’t want to be a burden, that’s the thing. I thought you know, I’ve spent my life trying to look after my family and I don’t want them to be in a position where they’re having to care for me but they would love to if that situation happened. All the support I’ve had, I realise how wrong I was, so now I’ve got the opportunity to try and help people with speech and language problems.” 

Adding: “We were in Parliament just in October, lobbying in the government. Kids with apraxia, childhood apraxia of speech… get maybe one speech and language therapy lesson every six months and that’s not enough you know. They need it constantly and the government need to wise up on these situations. Not just the kids though, it’s adults as well, that have had a stroke, have got MS, got MND, aphasia, ataxia, apraxia, verbal dyspraxia, all those get no help whatsoever so I’m going to campaign as much as I can to help those people.” 

Commenting on the support he’s had from the world of football, Kammy said: “The football world has been amazing, 28 clubs have given me an open invitation whenever I want to go to the ground. Palace is one of them, West Ham is one of them…”

Good Morning Britain, weekdays from 6am on ITV1 and ITVX

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