Alex McLeish backs heading guidelines while admitting test for brain disease

Alex McLeish
Alex McLeish, left, said he believed he would be a 'prime candidate' for brain disease

Former Scotland boss Alex McLeish has revealed he has been tested for brain disease as he welcomed guidelines to halt children heading footballs.

The Scottish FA have announced measures to stop teaching children under the age of 12 to head a ball.

Research showed former footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from brain disease.

"I get regular medicals every year," said ex-defender McLeish, who played professionally for 27 years.

"Everything is okay in my head as well, despite heading the ball a million times or even more.

"I asked the specialist. I said I've got to confess I've headed the ball over a million times I'm sure and he said, 'well you don't have a problem'.

"It was pretty reassuring. I thought I'd be a big candidate for that."

'If it enhances skills on the ground it has to be a plus'

The SFA have been joined by their counterparts in England and Northern Ireland in implementing the new guidelines, which will affect training only.

Other measures include under-12 teams being limited to one session a month with a maximum of five headers, while under-13 age groups will have one session a week.

McLeish, who earned 77 caps for his country while having two spells as Scotland manager, believes it may take time for Scottish football to adapt to the changes.

However, he says it can only lead to a greater technical ability of the next generation.

"It changes it," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime with John Beattie.

"Scotland over the years [have been] seen as a long-ball country, it could make a significant difference for young players growing up in terms of their manipulation of the ball on the ground.

"It's going to increase our technical skills with the ball on the ground and that is very much part of international and European football.

"If it enhances the Scottish skills on the ground it has to be a plus."

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