PETER CROUCH: I’ve scored more headers than anyone, so I know I’m at risk – that’s why I get a dementia scan every year
- I promised to have scans for chronic traumatic encepalopathy
- Since I’ve been used as an air threat throughout my career, I’m at risk
- There were times when I would see stars that went this far
- But I would never advocate a headline ban, it would change the sport
My first appearance on these pages came six days after Alan Shearer’s documentary Dementia, Football and Me aired on the BBC in November 2017.
The program struck a chord. So in my first column, I made a promise that at some point in the future I would have a scan for CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – to see if running a football for years had left a lasting impression.
It’s time for an update. I have yet to take the test, but that doesn’t mean I’m avoiding things. In fact, it is quite the opposite. We have been discussing this topic a lot at home lately and Abbey is persistent about the need for me to book one.
There were times when I headed the ball more than any other player in the top European leagues
I don’t intend it to be just a one-time thing, though. If I can be assessed every year or every two years, what harm could that do? If, heaven forbid, I’m vulnerable to this disease, I’d rather know early so I can take steps to treat it.
I am not naive enough to think that I am not at risk.
There was a point in my career, when I played week in, week out, when I headed quite a bit more than anyone in Europe’s four main leagues.
Course was a huge weapon, but it was not a natural weapon. When I was a kid I dreamed of being Paul Gascoigne. I always had good skills and a nice touch.
But I was 6ft plus when I was 15 and I felt like I needed to improve my flying skills because I could become a target.
The requirement as a goalkeeper required heading skills was worked out as a skill
And how I practiced. Before I went to school, I took my dad to a field not far from our house and he would hit balls for me.
Every time I worked out I spent time developing my technique.
There were times when I can remember literally seeing stars after sessions because I used my head so much.
Most of you reading this will have hit a ball at some point in your life. If you do it from the wrong part of your head, you will know that you seem to be getting what a flash in your eyes – that’s your brain, literally, trembling.
As a child you don’t think about risks later in life and the prospect of dementia from a football wasn’t even discussed in the 1990s.
Removing the cup from football is not something I would advocate as it would change the game
If you wanted to box then, you were made aware of the dangers. There was no such thing with football.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t regret it. I have had a great career and I am proud that no one has scored more goals than I have in the Premier League. I would never advocate being banned because that would completely change the sport.
But at the same time, we cannot close ourselves to the fact that there is a huge problem. We need to take care of the players who are affected, support those who are vulnerable and protect the players of the future.
If Sportsmail’s campaign can lead to change, all the better.