A few months ago, at the end of September, former Reading striker Kevin Doyle was forced into early retirement. I say early – he is 34 now – but he would likely have gone on a fair bit longer, were it not for medical advice.
At the time, when he announced his retirement on Twitter, Doyle said that repeatedly heading the ball was giving him headaches, and doctors had advised him to hang up his boots.
Beyond that, he hadn’t talked too much about the problems he’d been going through, but has now talked out about the subject on television.
Speaking on the Late Late Show (the Irish one hosted by Ryan Tubridy, not the American one with James Corden), Doyle shared the advice he got from his doctor:
“You could be fine, I can’t tell you you mightn’t be, you might be fine, but there’s a good chance you basically get stuck with concussion symptoms – they don’t go away.”
He then moved on to how he felt at the time, and what ultimately prompted his decision:
“[The symptoms] were clearing up for me if I rested for a week or two, but… you get stuck with headaches, you get stuck with feeling sick, get stuck feeling a bit depressed really is the feeling… you’re not right.
“And I’m thinking, I’ve only got six months, a year left… it’s tough. I didn’t make my mind up then, I took six weeks, I went to see someone else, obviously you want to get a second opinion, it was basically the same thing. So, I came to that conclusion: [get out].
“I feel great now, I know it’s the right decision… already, I feel great.”
Tubridy also raised the general issue of concussion in sport, which has been widely talked about particularly in American Football, but increasingly in (proper) football. Doyle, who last played for Colorado Rapids in the MLS, replied:
“The fact that I’ve retired, and the way they treated me in America, they’re obviously taking it very serious. That’s a good thing, it’s becoming more aware.
“The specialist said to me: it was probably during your career where you were concussed and you didn’t realise it. I was never officially concussed my whole career, until this year, when obviously I’d had bangs and been knocked out on the pitch where I would have been concussed.
“It wasn’t a thing five, ten years ago. So if I’d have taken a rest then for a week or two, which players are doing now, and treating it properly, I probably wouldn’t have these issues.”