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Raphael Varane reveals fears over long-term health after concussions: ‘I have damaged my body’

The Manchester United defender has advised his son not to head the ball

Harry Latham-Coyle
Tuesday 02 April 2024 14:19
Raphael Varane has opened up his experience with head injuries
Raphael Varane has opened up his experience with head injuries (Getty Images)

Raphael Varane has revealed that he fears for his long-term health due to the suspected concussions he has suffered during his career.

In an interview with L’Equipe, the Manchester United defender admitted to playing on several occasions with symptoms of a brain injury.

The 30-year-old recalled suffering what he believed to be concussions ahead of both France’s 2014 World Cup quarter-final against Germany and a Champions League encounter with Manchester City while at Real Madrid in 2020.

The centre back announced a surprise retirement from international football last year and has been a vocal critic of the sport’s congested calendar.

Varane believes players should be more open if they are suffering concussion symptoms.

“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,” the defender said.

“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.

Raphael Varane has endured a difficult season with Manchester United (PA Wire)

“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.”

Varane has advised his seven-year-old son not to head the ball when playing football, and has been forced to miss Manchester United games this season due to so-called “micro concussions” suffered when heading the ball repeatedly.

“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 said.

“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.”

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