London – Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas has been criticised for allowing France international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to play on despite briefly losing consciousness against Everton on Sunday.
The 26-year-old keeper's head collided with Romelu Lukaku's knee in the 78th minute of their 0-0 Premier League draw at Goodison Park but a spokesman for the brain injury charity Headway said the club showed an “irresponsible and cavalier attitude” to Lloris's health by allowing him to play on.
Headway spokesman Luke Griggs said: “When a player – or any individual – suffers a blow to the head that is severe enough for them to lose consciousness, it is vital they urgently seek appropriate medical attention.
“A physio or doctor treating a player on the pitch simply cannot accurately gauge the severity of the damage caused to the player's brain in such a setting as there may be delayed presentation of symptoms.
“By continuing to play, the player may have caused greater damage to his brain. He should have been removed from the game immediately and taken to hospital for thorough tests and observation.”
Villas Boas said after the match: “He doesn't remember it so he lost consciousness. It was a big knock but he looked composed and ready to continue.
“Hugo seemed assertive and determined to continue and showed great character and personality. We decided to keep him on based on that.
“The call always belongs to me. Brad (Friedel) was ready to come in but the person Hugo is, there were enough signs for him to continue.”
Griggs, however, was not impressed.
“Sports science has evolved significantly over the past decade and yet we're still faced with the antiquated concept that a player should be brave and try to continue at all costs,” he said.
“Mr Villas-Boas's comment that his player's determination to play on was proof of his 'great character and personality' is simply wrong and dangerous.”
Initially Lloris seemed as if he was going to be carried off on a stretcher to be replaced by substitute Friedel.
There was a four minute delay – which contributed to nine minutes additional time in all – but Lloris indicated he was ready to play on.
Although the collision appeared to be accidental, Lukaku was booked for the challenge and his knee was iced after he came off shortly afterwards.
Spurs captain Michael Dazwson told the BBC he thought Lloris was going to go off.
“He took a really bad whack and I was worried when he went down and stayed down. When he got up his legs gave way but he stayed on and made two good saves,” Dazwson said.
“I lead those boys but safety is the most important thing. He was in a bad way but by the time he came around he was wanting to stay on. He's a little bit dazed but he's a lot better.” – Reuters