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01st Oct 2021

Terry Butcher: ‘I want to see football with no heading’

Callum Boyle

He feels it is ‘something we can do without’

Former England captain Terry Butcher wants to see heading gradually phased out of football, in order to lower the number of injuries suffered.

During an appearance on the BBC’s Sports Desk podcast the 62-year-old said he feels that it is “something we can do without.”

Butcher himself is no stranger to the impact heading a ball can bring, with the ex-England international involved in a head-related injury during an international match against Sweden back in 1989, leaving him to be bandaged up and covered with blood.

Recalling the day, Butcher said: “The doctor had to be very quick to get the stitches in and get you back on the pitch as soon as possible.

“People obviously just saw the games, they didn’t see the training. Heading was an integral part of the training session. Every week, just trying to clear lines, defending crosses.

“Eventually I want to see football with no heading.”

Studies into the impact of heading have previously shown that retired footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population.

The latest of those footballers, Nobby Stiles, died in October 2020 and was the fifth member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad to be diagnosed with dementia, with his son John having ‘no doubt’ that heading the ball was a contributing factor to Stiles’ death.

There have been steps made, however, to reduce the impact of heading. Recently, non-league sides Spennymoor Town and Team Solon played the first-ever 11-a-side game without heading as way to raise awareness of dementia in sport.

Meanwhile at younger ages, the FA have recommended that a maximum of “10 higher-force headers”can take place in training per week, whilst heading has been banned altogether in Under-11 sessions and is limited amongst other age groups in order to protect players in the long-term.

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