By 90Min
May 02, 2019

In the wake of Jan Vertonghen's disturbing injury sustained in Tottenham's 1-0 defeat to Ajax on Tuesday, the world of football is once again starting a discussion about what more can be done to protect players, putting the long-term effects of head injuries under the microscope.

A new Audible Original series 'The Beautiful Brain' has been released which does just that, starting by profiling the life of former West Brom striker Jeff Astle.

Ian Walton/GettyImages

Astle passed away in 2002 due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease which is commonly associated with boxers, becoming the first British footballer known to have died as a result of heading the ball.

The Justice for Jeff campaign was launched in 2014, which called for an inquiry into the effects of heading a football and brain injuries, something which has previously been investigated in other contact sports like American football.

As well as exploring Astle's case, the four-part Audible series also has contributions from Dr. Bennett Omalu, a leading figure in the discovery of CTE in NFL athletes, and a number of other researchers who are exploring female brain injuries specifically.

Recent cases involving the likes of Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire at the age of 26 after fracturing his skull, have previously brought laws surrounding head injuries into question, but so far no major changes to regulations have been made surrounding on-field collisions.

UEFA's current protocol surrounding suspected concussions insists that it is up to the club doctor to inform the referee in the player is able to continue, but as former striker Dion Dublin pointed out, a team's medical staff often aren't the ones making the final decision.

"I had so much concussion during my career. You have to stay still and do exactly what you are told," Dublin told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Going back on the pitch was incredibly risky for Vertonghen because if there was any challenge near him, it could have been terrible.

"If the player is saying he is OK, it is difficult for a medical professional to say 'no you cannot go back on."

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