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'I should not have continued playing' - Vertonghen opens up on nine-month struggle post-concussion

The former Tottenham defender has revealed long-lasting effects of a concussion sustained in the 2019 Champions League semi-final against Ajax.

Former Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.
Former Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.
Image: Tess Derry

FORMER TOTTENHAM DEFENDER defender Jan Vertonghen has revealed he suffered the effects of a concussion sustained in the Champions League semi-final against Ajax in 2019 for nine months.

Vertonghen, who now plays for Benfica, briefly tried to play on after an aerial collision involving teammate Toby Alderweireld and Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, but he soon had to be helped from the field and was seen vomiting on the pitch.

However, he returned to play the second leg in Amsterdam just a week later as Tottenham reached their first ever Champions League final.

“Lots of people don’t know but I suffered a lot from that hit: dizziness and headaches,” Vertonghen told Belgian broadcaster Sporza.

“This is now the first time I am talking about it. I should not have continued playing, it affected me in total for nine months and that’s why I couldn’t bring what I wanted to on the field.”

The Belgian international then suffered a dip in form during the final year of his contract with Tottenham as Jose Mourinho replaced the sacked Mauricio Pochettino.

“I still had a year left on my contract, so I had to play, but when I played, I played badly. Not many people knew that, that was my own choice, it is not blaming anyone. 

“The fact I got benched had nothing to do with (Mourinho). I was in a period I could not bring what I should have. I even thought he played me a lot compared to how I performed.”

Football’s lawmakers IFAB are to discuss proposals for the introduction of concussion substitutes.

The impact of head injuries in football have been thrust back into the spotlight by the diagnosis and deaths of several of England’s 1966 World Cup winning side with dementia.

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Nobby Stiles and Jack Charlton have both died from dementia earlier this year, while Bobby Charlton has also been diagnosed with the disease.

Vertonghen added it was not until football’s shutdown due to coronavirus that he was able to fully rest and recover.

“I just didn’t know what to do. It was game after game and training session after training session,” added the 33-year-old.

“Every time there was a new impact. Then the lockdown came and I was able to rest for two months, after that it was a lot better.”

Last week, a host of former rugby union internationals said they were planning legal action against their sport’s authorities over the result of concussion.

© – AFP, 2020

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