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21st Nov 2020

Wayne Rooney backs calls for investigation into links between dementia and heading

Simon Lloyd

“The more research that can be done, the better”

Wayne Rooney has backed the campaign to investigate the links between football and dementia, revealing he would support any moves to limit heading during training sessions and amongst junior age group games.

The recent death of Nobby Stiles, who had been living with dementia, closely followed by the announcement that his former Manchester United and England teammate Sir Bobby Charlton has been diagnosed with the condition, has seen numerous well-known figures from throughout the game call for more research into the connection.

Rooney, who is currently caretaker manager at Derby County following the recent departure of Phillip Cocu, was asked how important he felt it was that more research into the area was done.

“It is very important,” he replied. “The amount of football players that have died over recent years from the disease is too many.

“It is difficult to see former players die so young, and knowing that football might have been a part of that is really sad, and you feel sad for the families.

“The more research that can be done, the better.

“If it means with young children stopping them from heading the ball in training, how it is going to work in stopping players from heading the ball in games, I don’t know, but clearly something needs to change and something needs to happen to make sure this doesn’t happen to the next generation of players.

“I am sure people are looking into why this is happening and trying to come up with the best solution.”

Prior to returning to English football with Derby, Rooney spent 18 months with D.C. United in the United States, where heading is banned in the children’s  game. Reflecting on his time there, he added:

“My eldest boy, when we lived in the States, was in a football team and heading was banned for them in training and in games.

“Maybe that is something that can happen on a more regular basis over here.”