Lambert Backs Research Into Players' Brain Injuries
Friday, 20th Nov 2020 11:58
Boss Paul Lambert has backed PFA plans to research further the issue of players suffering brain injuries during their careers due to heading the ball.
In 2002 former England and West Brom striker Jeff Astle died aged 59 due to repeated trauma from heading, which the coroner described as an “industrial injury”, while neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart said his condition was normally linked to boxing.
More recently it was revealed that Sir Bobby Charlton is suffering with dementia, while his brother Jack and three other members of the 1966 World Cup-winning side, Ray Wilson, Martin Peters and Nobby Stiles, have all died in the last few of years having been affected by neurodegenerative diseases.
Earlier this week, their team-mate Sir Geoff Hurst said he supports a ban on children heading footballs.
Town legend Ted Phillips suffered from dementia during his final years before his death in January 2018, as did his Blues team-mate John Elsworthy, who died in 2009.
Dr Stewart has researched the issue for the PFA and the FA and found that ex-players are from two to five times more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases.
On Tuesday the PFA said that it would keep funding the research at Glasgow University, a move Lambert says he is fully behind.
“The same as everybody else,” he said when asked his thoughts on the issue. “I think the way it’s coming out now and really gathering momentum.
“Sir Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and there are so many players there that are going through it, and I think it has to be looked at.
“There must be some sort of thing into it and if people can get to the bottom of it, great. But it’s definitely 100 per cent worth going into.”
Is heading something which could be limited in training? “You probably could. You could have rules where you say the ball doesn’t go above head height. You could have games like that and all those sorts of things.
“But when you’re asked to go and play a game of football, you know you have to go and head a ball somewhere along the line.
“Whether it’s five times a game or 50 times a game, you can certainly modify it in training.
“Sir Geoff Hurst has come out and said the same things as well so I’m all for looking into it because is a game of football really worth somebody’s health? And somebody’s parents or your kid? It’s something that should be looked at.”
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