Gary Breen is in support of children being banned from heading footballs as he is ‘acutely aware’ of the damage it can cause.
A UK study showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the general population.
The former Republic of Ireland player was speaking to Off The Ball and was in full support of banning U-12s from heading in training.
“I genuinely think football has changed even at the highest level that the likes of centre halves don’t really head the ball as much as we did back in the day.
“I think it’s a really positive move. I don’t think children should be doing it. I genuinely don’t.
“I’m aware of how cruel an illness it is in terms of what we’re seeing. So many people listening will have people who have nothing to do with football but have had to deal with it. I just can’t bear to imagine what families are having to cope with,” Breen said.
The former center-back revealed that he himself has worries over the amount he has headed footballs and that players in previous generations may be even worse off.
“I am aware and it has certainly been at the forefront of my attention with how much I have headed the ball throughout my career and how vulnerable I now am.
“I’ve no doubt, bearing in mind not just in games heading the ball but the amount we would have headed in terms of getting your timing right.
“Waterlogged balls - I know the balls in my generation were far better than the ones of the previous one and what have you. I’m sure the balls now a lot lighter than the ones that I headed.
“I’m acutely aware of it, to be honest in terms of how vulnerable I will potentially be to it which is a pretty dark thought as such. But there you go,” Breen commented.