Rachel Brown-Finnis on her light-bulb moment over heading danger

My light-bulb moment over heading danger: Former Liverpool, Everton and England goalkeeper RACHEL BROWN-FINNIS reveals how playing in America helped raise awareness on the high risk of heading a football

  • I have a neurological condition — epilepsy — which started when I was 17
  • The cause of my epilepsy is unknown and it hasn’t caused significant problems
  • I lived in America for five years and there was a lot of awareness on concussions
  • That was 20 years ago and a lot of players wore padded headbands as a result
  • It put a light bulb on: maybe we should be protecting our heads in football 

I am very conscious that I have a neurological condition — epilepsy — which started when I was 17. 

I had smashed my head into the post on a couple of occasions and it’s happened since. The cause of my epilepsy is unknown and it hasn’t caused any significant problems. But we’re talking about the long-term effects.

I wasn’t always a goalkeeper. I did plenty of heading as a youth player. Knowing there is something already going on in my brain, is football going to have a life-changing impact down the line? That’s pretty concerning.

Former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis speaks out on the risks of heading the ball

I lived in America for five years, playing in the college system. There was quite a lot of awareness about head injuries in American football.

That was 20 years ago and already some people drew parallels — a lot of players wore padded headbands. 

That was the first awareness I had that there could be science behind concussions, brain damage and football. 

It put a light bulb on: maybe we should be protecting our heads.

I’ve not really seen anyone wear those sort of things over here.

A footballer’s worst worry was a career-ending cruciate ligament injury in my generation. Long-term health of our brains is not something that even came into consideration.

Brown-Finnis played for both Liverpool and Everton (pictured in 2014) before retiring in 2015




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