Neurosurgeon echoes PFA in calling for reduced heading in training

Leading FA and Premier League medical adviser echoes the PFA in calling for a reduction of heading in training following Sportsmail’s campaign for more research into dementia in football

  • Professor Tony Belli is an adviser on concussion to the FA and Premier League
  • Professor Belli has questioned whether long heading sessions are necessary
  • The neurosurgeon has also said that heading could be responsible for dementia

One of the FA and Premier League’s own medical advisers last night followed the PFA in saying it would be sensible to reduce heading in training.

The intervention of Professor Tony Belli — a world-leading expert on traumatic brain injury who runs the Birmingham Sport Concussion Clinic — is significant as he acts as an independent adviser on concussion to the football organisations who must now decide whether to implement the PFA’s recommendation.

Belli said: ‘I am not a football coach, but from a medical point of view you need to ask yourself whether long heading sessions are absolutely necessary.

Anthony Martial and Mason Holgate contest a header in the Premier League earlier this month

‘It still needs to be established conclusively, but it is possible that heading the ball might be responsible for at least part of this increase (in risk of dementia among footballers). 

‘If there is a suggestion that heading the ball can cause permanent damage to the brain, you ask yourself whether limiting the number of headers will be sensible.

‘There is common sense. If 20 headers is just about right for a professional footballer, there is no need to go beyond that. Anything on top of that is not going to help.’

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