BBC pundit Alan Shearer is to present a one-off investigation looking into the latest scientific research linking football and dementia.
The former England, Newcastle and Blackburn Rovers striker, a prolific header of the ball in his playing days, will front Dementia: Football’s Silent Shame? – a one-hour documentary which will be broadcast on BBC One this summer – in a bid to find out whether retired footballers are more at risk from suffering from dementia in later life.
Recent scientific reports from around the world have revealed a potentially devastating link between football and dementia, a result of brain damage caused by heading the ball.
Now, aged 46 and having been retired for 10 years, Alan Shearer is still the Premier League’s top goal scorer with 46 of those goals from headers alone.
Concerned by recent reports and having watched previous footballing legends succumb to the ravages of dementia, Shearer wants to find out the truth about the subject.
The documentary will investigate the latest scientific research from Britain and around the world, including studies into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition formerly believed to exist primarily among boxers.
Commenting on the documentary, Shearer says: “After seeing the movie Concussion, I was intrigued. I was aware of former football players, legends who I grew up watching, suffering from dementia.
“Could this affect football and footballers too? The more I read about it, the more I felt this was a subject that could no longer be ignored.”
Shearer will meet footballers and their families affected by dementia before turning himself over to science.
Undergoing a variety of cutting edge medical tests, including bio marker blood tests and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), Shearer will uncover what condition his body and brain is in.
The science is not straightforward and the documentary seeks out medical opinion that casts doubt on the direct link between dementia and brain damage caused by heading the ball. He also challenges football’s governing bodies to confront the issue, which is causing outrage among footballing communities who feel it is being ignored.
Dementia: Football’s Silent Shame? – produced by BBC Sport, will air on BBC One this summer (date TBC).