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Raphael Varane says he played on ‘autopilot’ after headers

The Frenchman advocates for protection and health awareness for headers in football

Raphael Varane, currently playing for Manchester United, reveals the toll heading the ball has taken on his body and advocates for better protection and awareness regarding the issue.

Varane recalls instances where he continued playing despite suffering concussions, such as during a France World Cup game in 2014 and a Champions League match with Real Madrid in 2020. He emphasizes the need for caution, especially for young players, and advises his own son against heading the ball.

Reflecting on his experiences, Varane acknowledges the long-term risks associated with repeated head impacts in football and urges for education on the dangers of headers at all levels of the game.

Despite his resilience on the field, Varane highlights the invisible nature of concussion symptoms and the need for greater understanding and support for affected players.

He references recent guidelines in England limiting high-force headers in training sessions and the introduction of permanent concussion substitutes in the Premier League as steps in the right direction. However, he points out ongoing legal actions by former players and their families against football governing bodies, alleging negligence in addressing the risks of concussion.

Varane’s insights shed light on the challenges and risks faced by footballers regarding head injuries, highlighting the importance of prioritizing player safety and well-being in the sport.

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