The former New England Revolution striker retired from soccer in November, two years after suffering the last in a series of concussions. He’s since become an outspoken advocate of reforming the sport and promised to donate his brain to science.
In the interview, he speaks candidly and heartbreakingly about his condition.
“I’m talking about both sides of your head feeling like they’re getting pushed together by someone’s two hands. … It’s constant. It’s the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep and when you wake-up it feels like you didn’t sleep. It’s like studying for a mid-term exam 24-7. That’s what your brain feels like.”
Later, he admits he’s slowly getting better but the former world-class athlete can no longer run or get his heart rate above 120.
“My working out is reading the newspaper for 30 minutes,” Twellman says. “That’s a workout for me.”
While not being able to play was frustrating, the mental battle was more difficult to overcome.
“If you talking to anyone that’s had severe concussion symptoms, it’s the hardest thing to do… is dealing with the depression.”
Twellman has vowed to help reform soccer, and he sympathizes with the plight of the NFL as well.
“Everyone is up in arms in terms of Roger Godell lately on his penalties. He’s not changing the sport; he’s going back to what the sport was meant to be. The sport was meant to be tackled below the shoulders. The headballs is always going to be part of the game. What needs to change, what has to change, the education of our trainers, our doctors and coaches across MLS and across Europe. You cannot tell me that someone gets punched in the head like I was and look me straight in the eyes and say, “You didn’t have a concussion.” I was told I did not have a concussion. It’s 100 percent impossible. If that [education] changes it, you’re going to see better care of the players and fewer games lost for players.
Read the rest of the interview at The Shin Guardian.