Alan Shearer Fears That He Could Contract Dementia After Heading Footballs 150 Times A Day

The Newcastle legend is looking at brain trauma in football for a new BBC documentary

Most Popular

With his ham hock neck and granite cranium forged in the molten embers of the North East, few footballers were more effective in the air than Alan Shearer. But the England legend is worried that one of his greatest skills could have devastating consequences on his health.

In a new BBC documentary titled Dementia Football and Me, set to air on 12 November, Shearer will look at dementia in football and whether continually heading modern balls could lead to brain injuries for players in later life.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Speaking to the Telegraph, Shearer, who was known to head the ball 150 times in training, said: "I am concerned that I might develop dementia, it is definitely something that bothers me, that I might not have a future because of football.

"I've had head injuries on the pitch and you run off and get a few stitches and you get bandaged up and you're straight back out. It was what was expected.

"But it's more the damage that happened by continually heading the ball in practice. That's what worry's me. Then you would be heading the ball 30, 40, 50 times.

"It's been 15 years now since the coroner found that Jeff Astle (the former West Brom and England forward) died from an industrial disease. Yet nothing has changed. His family are angry and disappointed, and rightly so.

"When Fabrice Muamba had a heart attack and collapsed, within six months there were defibrillators on every pitch."

Shearer having a brain scan in the documentary

For the documentary, Shearer visits the University of Stirling where scientists measure his brain function before and after a session of heading a new ball 20 times while he also receives a brain scan, with results being revealed on the programme.

Experts have long suspected repeated heading of footballs may lead to brain damage and dementia, but a firm connection wasn't made until the inquest into the death of Jeff Astle in 2002, where it was discovered that the 59-year-old was suffering from a type of CTE known as boxer's brain, caused by heading footballs.

Despite these findings, the FA nor Fifa have ever funded research into the problem, with Shearer adding: "There are a lot of angry people out there and rightly so. The surprising thing is no one has stood up and said, 'We messed up, we should have done more'."

Alan Shearer: Dementia Football & Me will broadcast 12 November at 10.30pm on BBC One.