Transitioning out of professional football is known as a significant and challenging time in most players’ life. Over these pre- and post-retirement years, professional footballers might face several challenges such as preparing their second occupational career and adjusting to a new identity, life and lifestyle, but are also likely to struggle with their mental, musculoskeletal, neurocognitive and cardiovascular health. Therefore, the Amsterdam University Medical Centers (Amsterdam UMC) and FIFPRO (Football Players Worldwide), in collaboration with the Drake Foundation, Mehiläinen NEO Hospital and Push Sports, start a study in order to gather epidemiological evidence about the onset and course of mental, musculoskeletal, neurocognitive and cardiovascular health conditions in professional footballers during their pre- and post-retirement years.
An observational prospective cohort study with repeated measurements over a follow-up period of 10 years will be conducted among 240 professional footballers (male; 27 (±1) years old). Mental health will be explored by assessing symptoms of distress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, alcohol misuse, drug misuse and disordered eating. Musculoskeletal health will be explored by assessing severe joint injury and related surgery, clinical and radiological osteoarthritis, and joint function (hips, knees, ankles). Neurocognitive health will be explored by assessing concussion, brain structure and functioning, and neurocognitive functioning. Cardiovascular health will be explored by assessing blood pressure, lipid profile and electrocardiogram abnormalities. The results of this study will allow to get a better understanding about when and how adverse adaptations might occur in professional footballers, enabling ultimately to develop preventive and curative support measures in order to empower their sustainable health.