Alan Shearer has opened up about the fear of developing brain injuries because of his football career. The sports legend, 47, is presenting a documentary about the links between heading a ball and dementia, and confessed his worries that football could give him a brain disease. Speaking to Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes on This Morning, Alan said: "Forty-six goals in the Premier League (came from headers), so I was aware that I could be at risk if there was a link. It was a huge part of my game."
Alan, who would sometimes head a ball up to 150 times a day in training, said: "I went into football knowing that at some stage, later in life because of playing 15 to 20 years, and training, that I would have problems with my knees and my ankle and my back – and I have. But never did I think football could give me a brain disease. There has been very little research if any.
"Never did I think football could give me a brain disease," said Alan
"Are you at increased danger having played football? They can't answer that. And they've shied away from answering those questions for far too long. It's pretty much accepted that if you are a boxer, at some stage you are going to have a problem with your brain. But we don't know that in football. That's the sad thing."
For his documentary Dementia, Football and Me, Alan underwent a brain scan and also tested the effects of heading a ball. He compared the "ugly, big, brown leather footballs" they used in the sixties and seventies with present day balls. "What is a difference, is that when that big, brown ball was wet, it went to double the weight and that had to be a concern and an issue," he said.
Alan heading a ball in 1996 during a training session
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The former England footballer went on to say that not enough research has gone into the possible link. "I spoke to John Terry and Les Ferdinand and people were not aware there was an issue," said Alan. "At least you should be aware there could be an issue or a problem. In America they've actually banned heading for under 11s. We still need to have more research and the funding to do that."