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03rd Oct 2017

Roy Keane’s view on concussions in football is the most Roy Keane thing ever

"When you cross that line, there is an element of risk involved"

Robert Redmond

“If you’re worried about the physical side of any sport, then play chess.”

Roy Keane was on press duty for the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday morning, and the topic of Kevin Doyle inevitably came up. The Irish striker announced his retirement from professional football last week on medical grounds, after repeated incidents of concussion.

“This year been clear to me that heading the ball was becoming problematic and causing me to have repeated headaches,” Doyle said in a statement.

“Two concussions this season and numerous others over the years have made this more concerning. After consulting with experts in this field, it has been decided that to avoid the possibility of these symptoms becoming more serious and permanent, I will be hanging up my boots for good.”

Doyle had been playing for Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer, after a career in England which saw him feature for Reading, Wolves and Crystal Palace. The 34-year-old’s retirement came as a surprise and raised further concerns about the dangers of heading the ball and concussions in sport.

Keane was sympathetic towards Doyle having to retire, but less so about the potential risks involved in sport.

“He’s 34, he probably feels he’s had a decent innings,” the Ireland assistant manager said.

“Hopefully he’s picked the right time to retire because as everyone else has been saying, your health is your wealth as they say. The only thing I’ve seen from Kevin is this statement that he’s had one or two forms of concussion…we mentioned the word risk earlier. Every time you walk out on a football pitch there’s an element of risk involved. And if he’s had some sort of concussion over the last number of years and he feels he’s suffering from it, then obviously he feels it’s what right for him. But it’s part of the game, players picking up injuries and getting knocks. He’s a centre forward and he’s going to be having a lot of challenges with centre-halves as you’d expect. I’m sure he’s knocked a few centre-halves over himself and he’s had a few knocks and that’s part of the game. There’s risks involved in everything, particularly in sport. It is a physical game. But hopefully Kevin’s picked the right time to say enough’s enough for him and we wish him well, of course.”

The former Manchester United captain said that there’s an element of risk involved in every sport, and, if players are worried about it, then they should “play chess.”

“I’m sure that’s ongoing, the research into players who are suffering from concussion. But if you’re worried about the physical side of any sport – and you’re wary of it – then play chess.  It’s part of the game, whether it be hurling, football, American football, you see the rugby lads. It’s part of the game. When you cross that line, there is an element of risk involved. I think the players who are playing now regularly, it wouldn’t make a difference to them, they all want to be footballers. and when they cross that line, there’s an element you might get a knock. I’m pretty sure there is a lot of research going into it and everyone looks at everybody else and says ‘who’s going to sort it out?’. People have questioned the PFA, this and that. You know yourself, when you cross that line, as I’ve said, there’s a chance you might get hurt, and they’re the risks you take. Part of the game.”

Keane’s view on the topic of concussions in football wasn’t well received.

One or two agreed with sided with the former Ireland captain.