I read once an article that soccer players have reduced brain function when doing too many headers (i.e. hitting the soccer ball with your head).


A new study of long-time adult soccer players has found changes in the brain similar to traumatic brain injury as a result of repeated “headers” of the ball. The study also found an association between players who had repeatedly headed, and slight memory loss.

Is there any scientific data backing this up? Is the damage permanent or only temporary?

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    See this ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK185336
    – Cornelius
    Jul 6, 2014 at 18:13
  • Oddthinking and Cornelius, thank you both for the links, very informative!
    – sigma
    Jul 6, 2014 at 21:08
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    Cornelius gave you a link from National Institute of Health a US government agency which maintains a database of peer reviewed journal articles. The data base, which is free, is called PubMed.com. That is a reliable source. It is much better than "internet medicine" sites. I am a workers compensation attorney and have handled a significant number of soccer injury claims professionally. While there are certainly some concussion cases for professional soccer players, they didn't come from excessive headers, but more often from collisions and falls.
    – piquet
    Jul 8, 2014 at 17:35
  • As an aside - I read somewhere (not a reliable source, probably) that Lev Yashin's stomach cancer was due to the large number of shots that went, well, to his stomach.
    – P_S
    Jul 23, 2014 at 9:23

1 Answer 1


Certainly in England the link between heading a football and injury leading to death has been proven as the case of Jeff Astle, a former West Bromwich Albion soccer player, shows. In a definitive ruling, based on evidence provided by neurosurgeon Dr. Willie Stewart, the original diagnosis of Alzheimer's has been shown to be wrong and the correct diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is now recorded as the cause of Astle's death. As his Wikipedia entry shows, he played over 360 times for his club and 5 times for his country.

Former England and West Brom striker Jeff Astle has been confirmed as the first ever British footballer to die as a result of heading a football.

And this article, drawing on data provided by the same authority, expands upon the subject of head injuries in sport.

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    Here it is good practice to summarise the results of links an not just link. Even a short summary is usually helpful.
    – matt_black
    Jul 19, 2014 at 10:37
  • Sorry for that, but I thought the link line rather said it all, and anything else I may have added would have been words for the sake of words.
    – user995689
    Jul 19, 2014 at 13:22
  • @user995689: Kinda. One of the driving forces behind StackExchange is to be a resource, and that means "words for the sake of words" now because in five years time your link may well have succumbed to link rot and your answer could be useless. By copying the relevant information in, we protect against that.
    – Phoshi
    Jul 22, 2014 at 12:36
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    Ah, I geddit now. Thank you for the explanation, original answer edited in light of your comment.
    – user995689
    Jul 23, 2014 at 7:29
  • Not sure this answers the original question. Can we just talk about one single case to answer if headers in football cause brain damage? I'm a bit confused.
    – Einenlum
    May 14, 2015 at 11:16

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