Peter Crouch fears he will be the next footballer hit by a dementia diagnosis due to his decades of heading a ball.
The 6ft 7in ex-England striker reckons statistics show he is likely to be stricken with a degenerative brain disease like Sir Bobby Charlton and Terry McDermott.
Revealing he was left with concussion symptoms most days from heading balls in his playing days, the dad of four said: “I’d see stars and I’d think: ‘I’d better stop now’.
“I remember looking at stats and I’d headed more balls than anyone in Europe for about five or six years on the trot.
“So I always think, in the modern-day if anyone’s going to have this issue, it’ll be me.”
England World Cup winners Nobby Stiles, 78, and Martin Peters, 76, have died from dementia, while team-mate Sir Bobby, 84, and former Liverpool ace Terry, 70, both have the condition.
There has been much discussion in the past few years about whether football needs to do more to protect players from long-term health conditions, particularly dementia.
Some have suggested preventing players from performing headers during training as a potential solution, while others advise banning heading from the game altogether.
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Despite his concerns, Crouch says an outright ban would be a step too far, insisting that it would completely change the sport.
"At the same time," he told the Daily Mail, "we cannot shut ourselves off from the fact there is a huge issue. We need to look after the players who have been affected, support those who are vulnerable and safeguard the players of the future."
Crouch scored over 200 goals across a 19-year career in English football and has the most headed goals in Premier League history with 40.
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