Football players fearing concussion should play chess, says Keane

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The former Manchester United midfielder and current Ireland assistant manager has suggested an alternative for players worried about brain injury

Roy Keane believes footballers who are concerned by the risk of injury would be better off playing chess.

Sixty-four time Republic of Ireland international Kevin Doyle announced his retirement last week, having grown concerned during his time with Colorado Rapids about the long-term damage from concussions.

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But Keane believes footballers' attitudes should reflect those in rugby, with the Ireland assistant coach urging players to accept the dangers of sport.

"I suppose there is research ongoing with regard to concussion," Keane said. "If you're worried about the physical side of any sport, then play chess. It's part of the game, whether it's hurling or American football.

"You see the rugby lads. When you cross the line, there is an element of risk involved. They all want to play but know the risk. I'm sure there is research. But there is a chance you might get hurt. It is part of the game.

"I was surprised when I read about [Doyle's retirement]. He was involved in provisional squads. It's sad, he feels he made the right decisions.

"He's a decent guy and did well for Ireland. He's 34, felt he had a decent innings and maybe this is the right time. Health is your wealth as they say.

"I saw the statement which said he had one or two concussions. We mentioned risk and, when you walk on to a football pitch, there is an element of risk. He feels it is right for him.

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"It is part of the game, players picking up injuries. He is a centre forward and he gets a few knocks from centre-backs; I'm sure he has given out a few himself. It's a physical game."

Despite Keane's dismissal of the dangers of concussion in football, brain injury association Headway claimed that Doyle’s decision to retire early should set "alarm bells" ringing within the English FA.

“Ultimately, we need more evidence and we do feel the authorities have been dragging their feet on this for too long," Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway told Goal. "They certainly have questions to answer and Kevin Doyle’s retirement should be setting off alarm bells within the FA.”

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