ormer Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen says a concussion he suffered in 2019 affected his performance for nine months – and admits he felt he had to play through the problem because his Spurs contract was running down.
The Belgian suffered the head injury in a clash during the first leg of Spurs’ Champions League semi-final against Ajax in April 2019.
Vertonghen left the field for treatment and was allowed to re-enter the fray, only for it to immediately become clear he was unfit to continue and needed substituting as he struggled to keep his footing.
The club insisted at the time that it had followed strict concussion protocols.
“This is now the first time I speak about it,” he told Belgian news outlet Sporza. “I should not have continued playing, it affected me in total for nine months and that’s why I couldn’t bring on the field what I wanted to.
“Lots of people don’t know it but I suffered a lot from that hit: dizziness and headaches.
“Then the lockdown came and I was able to rest for two months, after that it was a lot better.
“Not a lot of people knew it. It was my personal choice. That’s not a reproach to anybody.”
Vertonghen’s admission comes at a time when conversation about concussion protocols in sport is rife.
The 33-year-old, who left for Benfica on a free transfer this summer, also admits that he kept quiet because of how it might be perceived and cannot blame Mourinho for not picking him.
“Also the image: what does it mean for the rest (of my career)? You know. I am fine now since four or five months,” he said.
“Everybody thought I was angry at Mourinho (for not playing) but at that moment I just couldn’t go on anymore. I had only one year of contract left, so I had to play. But when I played, I played badly.
“The fact I got benched had nothing to do with him. I was in a period (where) I could not bring what I should have, even though he played me a lot compared to how I performed.”
Additional reporting by PA.