My body is damaged —  Varane opens up on his struggles with injuries

Manchester United's Raphael Varane has struggled with injury recently || Image credit: Imago

My body is damaged — Varane opens up on his struggles with injuries

Faruq Ibrahim 14:43 - 02.04.2024

Raphaël Varane's open discussion on the toll of concussions in football sheds light on the ongoing challenges faced by players.

In an exclusive interview with L’Équipe, Manchester United's star centre-back, Raphaël Varane, has courageously shared the profound effects multiple concussions have had on his body and performance.

Varane's Struggles with Concussions

Varane, a seasoned defender, shocked the football world when he announced his retirement from international football at just 29, shedding light on the physically demanding nature of the sport.

He highlighted concerns shared by many within the football community regarding the gruelling match schedules and their detrimental impact on players' well-being.

“From the managers and players, we have shared our concerns for many years now that there are too many games, the schedule is overcrowded, and it’s at a dangerous level for players’ physical and mental well-being," the former Real Madrid defender said on X following his retirement.

A Glimpse Into Varane's Battles

Recalling pivotal moments in his career, Varane pinpointed matches where he struggled due to previous concussions, notably citing the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarter-final against Germany and a pivotal 2020 UEFA Champions League clash with Manchester City.

The aftermath of these head injuries left Varane feeling like a mere observer on the pitch, struggling to maintain focus and speed, ultimately leading to individual errors that deeply affected his performance.

Former France international Raphael Varane crouching in pain || Image credit: Imago
Former France international Raphael Varane crouching in pain || Image credit: Imago

“When I look at the worst matches of my career, in at least two of them, I had suffered a concussion just days earlier."

 “I was telling myself to wake up in the warm-up […] the first few touches were tidy technically, but it was way too slow. I couldn’t concentrate and stay in the match; I was like a spectator.

"The match went badly for me (two Manchester City goals came from Varane’s individual errors). In hindsight, I realised it was because of the hit that I had taken […] I really questioned myself after that match, but in the end, I realised that these unusual errors hadn’t just fallen from the sky."

Varane's Call for Change

Despite acknowledging the progress in concussion management within football, Varane insists that more needs to be done to safeguard players' health.

With restrictions on heading in training being implemented at the youth level in England, Varane hopes for similar measures in France.

According to GFFN, he has taken personal steps to protect his seven-year-old son from potential risks, drawing from his own painful experiences to advocate for enhanced safety protocols within the sport.

“I know that, personally, I won’t live until 100; I know that I have damaged my body […] I have put myself in danger. By speaking about it, situations can perhaps be better analysed and take decisions based on the risks."