Warren Spink was part of a special generation of Australian strikers. 

In an era that included Frank Farina, Eddie Krencevic, Graham Arnold, Robbie Slater, and David Mitchell, Spink stood out among some of the best to don the green and gold throughout the late 20th century. 

Playing primarily in the National Soccer League with the likes of Preston Lions, Footscray JUST, and Newcastle Breakers, it was the nimble striker’s speed and eye for goal that rightly caught the eye of Socceroos selectors. 

But in 1996, while on international duty with Australia, Spink’s promising career and life would change forever. 

In a match against Japan, Spink went to header a cross from teammate Goran Lozanovski. Despite meeting the ball first, Spink collided with his Japanese opponent and slammed his head into the turf.

“My temple just bounced off his forehead, and I hit the ground pretty hard,” Spink said. 

“I got knocked unconscious for nine minutes. I got woken up in the dressing room with some smelling salts, went to the Alfred Hospital, and was there for five hours. They let me out. 

“It was 20 days from the injury until I played the rest of that season. I was rubbish. I was nowhere near it. Everything was going to chaos.

Watch the full Warren Spink feature below

Nearly three decades later, Spink continues to feel the effects of the life-altering head injury. 

“The video is on YouTube, and when you see it and the severity of it, and that’s when I started seeing some doctors.

“Things from that injury onwards my life changed… not for the better. 

“My long-term memory is great… but my short-term memory is a big problem. I have a bit of trouble with my speech. I have a lot of these myoclonic seizures, with a jerk, which affects driving. Being in crowds is not great… This thing comes with a black dog.” 

Due to his health condition Spink requires daily support. The PFA has worked alongside his former club, Preston, to raise money to help manage his wellbeing and financial situation. 

The two held a fundraiser last month at BT Connor Reserve, where a documentary about Spink was shown to help raise awareness of his condition, concussion, and head injuries. 

“You’ve got no pain receptors in your brain. It kind of tricks you to think you’re alright,” he said. 

“We need to educate as much as we can about this because there’s a lot on the line. There needs to be awareness. This is really important.” 

Over $13,000 was raised through the fundraiser, during which several items were auctioned off, including a Socceroos and Matildas jersey signed by both the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup squads, and jerseys from Spink’s playing days, generously donated by Football Victoria. 

The PFA has enacted a number of initiatives on concussion and head trauma, including an expert education program on how to respond to head injuries that’s been developed in collaboration with FIFPRO for A-Leagues players. 

The organisation was also a signatory to a letter advocating for concussion substitutes alongside other global unions in February this year. 

Alongside this the PFA has established a partnership with Australian Sports Brain Bank and HeadingPro - who are both part of the PFA Footballers’ Trust – where thousands of dollars have been donated to the two organisations.  

Most recently the PFA has partnered with the Concussion Legacy Foundation Australia, whose helpline is available to all PFA members who are struggling with the outcomes of repeated concussions, brain injuries, their lingering symptoms, and help those who are concerned about suspected CTE. 

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