Researchers in the US have found CTE in the brain of a 29-year-old college soccer player. The brain trauma condition is usually seen in the States as an American football problem, but this could be a further indication that soccer players may be at risk.
Patrick Grange, a college soccer player at New Mexico, had been diagnosed with ALS when he was 27, and was considered a Stage 2 CTE sufferer on the 4-stage scale of severity. He died from the ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, last April. His parents recalled his love of heading the ball since childhood, and "a few memorable concussions" down the years.
While it cannot be said for sure that heading the ball was a direct cause for Grange's CTE, the issue of concussion has been an under-discussed topic in soccer. As we have previously mentioned in these pages, his is in contrast to the situation in rugby, where calls to highlight the dangers of head injuries are growing ever louder.
In 2002 Jeff Astle, the West Brom and England star of the 1960s and 1970s, died aged 59 of a degenerative brain disease now believed to have been CTE. It is thought that this was brought about by a lifetime of heading the old-style football, which, when wet, would be considerably heavier than today's models. In fact, the coroner recorded a verdict of "death by industrial disease".
Tottenham legend Danny Blanchflower died of Alzheimer's Disease in 1993, and heading the football was also seen as an accelerating factor in his demise.
More recently, Romelu Lukaku was knocked unconscious after scoring for Everton last September, and played on despite not remembering having scored. The Belgian was again involved in a head injury scare in November, when he collided with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, in an accidental, but still sickening clash. Indeed it was reminiscent to the Stephen Hunt-Petr Cech incident in October 2006 which left Cech with a depressed skull fracture and has required him to wear a rugby-style head protector during games.
Calls for the mandatory wearing of head protection by goalkeepers have been loudest in the US, where helmets are a standard equipment in three of the four main sports.
H/T: TheBigLead, NY Times