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Varane on concussions: 'I've damaged my body'

Raphael Varane Manchester United Raphael Varane heads the ball - The Canadian Press

World Cup-winning centre-back Raphael Varane says concussions over the course of his career have been deleterious to his health and has called for greater awareness among his peers of the dangers of headers.

The former France defender and current Manchester United star told L'Equipe he has cautioned his son about headers.

“My seven-year-old son plays football and I advise him not to head the ball," Varane said. "For me, that’s essential. Even if it doesn’t cause any immediate trauma, we know that in the long term, repeated shocks can have harmful effects. Personally, I don’t know if I’ll live to be 100, but I do know that I’ve damaged my body. The dangers of headers need to be taught on all amateur football pitches and to young people."

The 30-year-old native of Lille won the 2018 World Cup with Les Bleus before retiring from international competition following France's runner-up finish to Argentina in 2022.

In his third season at Old Trafford following a decade at Real Madrid, Varane says he incurred a concussion ahead of France's 1-0 defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup quarters and before Real's 2-1 loss to Manchester City in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie in the 2020 Champions League.

“I finished the match, but I'm in ‘autopilot’ mode," Varane said of the Germany loss. "If someone had spoken to me at that time, I don't even know if I would have been able to respond."

Varane left United's 1-1 draw with Brentford on Saturday at the half with an ankle injury, but does not expect to miss much time.

The Red Devils visit Chelsea in Premier League action on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge in a potential FA Cup final preview.