"I know I have damaged my body" - Manchester United star reveals concussion concerns after missing match

The French World Cup winner missed a match for Man Utd earlier this season after suffering a concussion
Raphael Varane has spoken about his concerns with the way concussion is handled in footballRaphael Varane has spoken about his concerns with the way concussion is handled in football
Raphael Varane has spoken about his concerns with the way concussion is handled in football

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane says the impact of suffering multiple concussions has "damaged his body" and he has also revealed that he missed a match earlier this season because of it.

The 30-year-old says he wants to raise awareness surrounding the issue after suffering a number of head injuries during his professional career for both club and country. Varane confessed he had been on "autopilot" after he suffered concussion in France's clash with Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup and that he had similar symptoms when he faced Manchester City with Real Madrid back in 2020.

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The World Cup winner admits he was not fully aware of the extensive issues surrounding head injuries and it was only this season that things finally clicked when specialists visited the United side to talk about the issue.

"The first time I heard about [micro-concussions] was this season when specialists came in to talk to us about it... Often, as a player, we don't understand and we don't even think about doing a test," he told L'Equipe.

"Earlier this season, I headed the ball repeatedly during a match for Man United and felt abnormally tired in the following days, as well as having some eye fatigue. I reported it to the staff who strongly recommended that I don't play, and I took a test which meant that I missed the next match.

"As footballers playing at the highest level, we are used to pain, we are a bit like soldiers, tough guys, symbols of physical strength, but these symptoms are almost invisible. If your leg hurts and you limp, everyone sees it. But with head injuries, it immediately feels weak to say that you are tired, that you have migraines or eye fatigue... So at first, we tell ourselves that it will pass."

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If a player experiences repeated concussions it could cause brain injury and lead to the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Current FA protocol states that if a player is suspected of having concussion, they must be immediately removed from the pitch, whether in training or during a match. Just last month, football's lawmakers finally approved the use of permanent concussion substitutions in the game.

Varane would like to see further changes made to ensure players aren't exposed to head trauma from a young age and he has even advised his own child to try and avoid heading the ball.

He added: "My seven-year-old son plays football, and I advise him not to header the ball. Even if it does not cause immediate trauma, we know that in the long term, repeated shocks are likely to have harmful effects. I don't know if I will live to be 100, but I know that I have damaged my body."

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