Man United star Raphaël Varane reveals problems with concussion and urges fresh push on protocol in football

It's clear that more still needs to be done prevent concussion and CTE in the sport.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 2nd April 2024

Manchester United star Raphaël Varane has revealed he has unfortunately been suffering from concussion problems for the last decade in a fresh effort to improve protocols around head injuries in world football.

The often-injured Man United and now internationally retired French defender was speaking to sports outlet L’Équipe in an exclusive interview when he detailed that not only has he had to pull out games due to concussion concerns but has played through matches even with head injury symptoms.

Citing instances such as a 2019/20 match for Real Madrid against Man City and fixtures as far back as 2014 when France came up against Brazil in the round of 16, he described his performances as being on “autopilot” and that he was unsure he would have even been able to respond if someone spoke to him.

As for similar experiences since joining United, he described a game earlier this season where he headed the ball multiple times and was feeling “abnormally tired in the following days, as well as having some eye fatigue” before being deemed unfit to play the next match.

The 30-year-old serial winner explained that although steps have been taken to protect his health down the years, the protocols surrounding potential concussions and injury culture, in general, aren’t quite where they need to be.


“As footballers playing at the highest level, we are used to pain, we are a bit like soldiers, tough guys, symbols of physical strength, but these symptoms are almost invisible”, says Varane.

“If your leg hurts and you limp, everyone sees it. But with head injuries, it immediately feels weak to say that you are tired, that you have migraines or eye fatigue… So at first, we tell ourselves that it will pass.”


Varane left the French national team in 2023 to look after his overall fitness and also said he has already advised his seven-year-old son not to head the ball when playing, reiterating that “even if it does not cause immediate trauma, we know that in the long term, repeated shocks are likely to have harmful effects.”

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The seasoned centre-back went on to confess that it was only this season that he heard about “The first time I heard about micro-concussions after specialists came in to talk to the United squad about it, adding that most players “don’t understand and we don’t even think about doing a test”.

It was only in December 2022 that football fans were left fuming with the Football Association (FA) themselves for mocking a potentially serious head injury during a cup tie and while things have improved in recent years, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of preventive rework still to be done.


Fellow footballing legend Alan Shearer has been at the forefront of trying to improve awareness around concussions in football and the links to conditions like CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) as Varane is by no means the first and sadly won’t be the last.

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Featured Images — Антон Зайцев/Ardfern (via Wikimedia Commons)