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"Every Time I Headed The Ball I Felt Like Shit" - Kevin Doyle Admits Drastic Pain Behind Retirement

"Every Time I Headed The Ball I Felt Like Shit" - Kevin Doyle Admits Drastic Pain Behind Retirement
By Maurice Brosnan
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Kevin Doyle was one the nation's most liked footballers. A League of Ireland graduate plying his trade in the Premier League whilst leading the line for the international team. Every after he left Europe for the Colorado Rapids, Irish fans were still devoted to his dealings and he stayed involved in the Irish squad.

Last September his career came to an abrupt end when he announced his retirement due to ongoing concussion injuries. It was an unexpected end for the Irish legend who had struck up such a deadly partnership with Robbie Keane.

In an interview with former Reading and Republic of Ireland team-mate Stephen Hunt in today's Sunday Independent, Doyle has revealed the number one problem that eventually forced him to retire from the game: heading the ball.

I couldn't head a ball without feeling unwell. When I told the medical staff all this and that, towards the end of the previous season, I'd told Jenny (his partner) every time I headed the ball I felt like shit... Looking back now, the number of times I'd headed the ball and taken a bang, the tolerance levels were getting lower and lower. Now I was at the stage where any little knock, and I was going to get concussed.

Doyle confesses he compounded the problem, particularly in America when he endured headaches for six months to a year but didn't inform the medical team. The ultimate problem came when an Ashley Cole clearance hit him in the head during an MLS game.

I instantly zonked out. Not knocked out, just gone, concussed. It was worse than I thought... My head just flopped and went 'bang, bang.' Then it was weird. It was like I was looking down on myself playing.

Hunt asks Doyle has he seen the Alan Shearer documentary which Doyle says he hasn't.


Current pundit and former Newcastle striker Shearer recently accused football's authorities of failing to address the potential issues heading the ball may have:

Nowhere near enough research has been done. The authorities have been very reluctant to find out any answers. They have swept it under the carpet, which is not good enough.

Football must look after old players with dementia and put an end to this sense that once you are done playing, you can be put on the scrapheap.

The link between heading and possible effects on the brain has received increasing coverage recently. In America, the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative in 2016 banned all children who are under the age of 10 from heading the ball. It also puts restrictions on the time allocated to head the ball for children as old as 13.

In the UK, both the PFA and Scottish Youth Football Association are looking at introducing similar guidelines.

Doyle assures Hunt he doesn't fear for his future because he is retired now.


The idea of extending any restriction on heading to senior set-ups seems drastic but it is undoubtedly an issue that deserves further analysis and in particular, concussion guidelines are paramount to the number one priority of the game: safety of the players.

The full interview, including Doyle's reflection on his time at Reading and playing under Trappatoni is well-worth checking out and can be done so in today's Sunday Independent. 

SEE ALSO: Antonio Conte Wastes No Time In Hitting Back At "Little Man" Mourinho

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