Emotional moment England rugby legend reveals he can’t remember meeting the Queen

Rugby Union - Press Conference - Crowne Plaza, Auckland, New Zealand - 6/10/11 
England's Steve Thompson during the press conference 
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Paul Harding
Steve Thompson, 43, has been losing memories of his past achievements since being diagnosed with early-onset dementia. (PA)

An England World Cup winning rugby player has revealed he can’t remember receiving an MBE from the Queen as he spoke about living with dementia.

Steve Thompson, 43, has been losing memories of his past achievements since being diagnosed with early-onset dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 2020.

In an emotional clip from a BBC documentary, the former England hooker said he could not remember meeting Her Majesty after the country won the Webb Ellis Cup in Australia in 2003.

After holding up a picture of the England team posing with the late Queen, a visibly upset Thompson said: “It’s bizarre because I know I done it because I’ve seen the videos and stuff.

“But I can’t physically remember being on the (team) bus and talking to people or anything like that.”

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 08:  Joined By One Of Her Pet Dorgis The Queen Poses With The England Rugby Squad At Buckingham Palace To Celebrate The Rugby World Cup Win. Front Row (l-r): Matt Dawson, Paul Grayson, Dorian West, Lawrence Dallaglio, Martin Johnson, Her Majesty, Clive Woodward, Jonny Wilkinson, Neil Back, Phil Vickery And Kyran Bracken.   Back Row (l-r): Jason Robinson,  Julian White, Trevor Woodman, Steve Thompson, Mike Catt, Iain Balshaw, Dan Luger, Stuart Abbott, Andy Gomarsall, Josh Lewsey And Jason Leonard. Centre Row ( L-r): Mike Tindall, Ben Cohen, Joe Worsley, Martin Corry, Ben Kay, Danny Grewcock, Will Greenwood, Lewis Moody, Richard Hill, Mark Regan And Simon Shaw.  (Photo by Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)
Steve Thompson (3rd from left back row) can't remember taking a picture with the Queen. (Getty)

The former sportsman stars in BBC documentary Head On: Rugby, Dementia And Me which will see him meet brain experts to better understand his progressive and expansive memory loss.

In the clip, Thompson looks at his MBE medal and then shakes his head after the interviewer asks him if he can remember anything.

He added: “When people say you’ve got the world cup medal I feel like a phoney because it feels like I haven’t done it.”

Thompson said when he’s in public and people talk about the World Cup he gets embarrassed and feels emotional about not being able to remember his past achievements.

He added he doesn't think his career was worth it because he does not want to be a burden on his family.

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Steve Thompson, England
Steve Thompson during his playing days. (PA)

Thompson retired in 2011 because of a neck injury.

He had previously done so in 2007 as a result of a different neck problem, but returned to extend a club career which included spells with Northampton, Brive, Leeds and Wasps.

During his playing days, he was repeatedly concussed and is part of a group of former players bringing legal action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Thompson said there was still “nowhere near” enough done to protect players.

The former England international added player safety had not been the priority and you “can’t put people’s lives on the line”.

In 2021, Thompson became the first sportsman to pledge his brain to the Concussion Legacy Project.

Head On: Rugby, Dementia And Me airs on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC Two and iPlayer.