Carlo Ancelotti, the Everton manager, has welcomed the growing research into football-related brain injuries as he recalled tragic loss of a former team-mate to debilitating illness.

Ancelotti referenced the case of Stefano Borgonovo, a European Cup winner with AC Milan in 1990, who died aged 49 following a battle with motor neurone disease (MND).

Ancelotti says there are ongoing studies in Italy as to whether footballers are more prone to such an illness, which is why he advocates more investigations.

“Of course,” said the Italian Ancelotti. “The more research they do for this is welcome. I think it is an aspect that we have to take into consideration seriously. Some players from the past have had big, big problems unfortunately. Not only dementia but a lot of other things.

“My team-mate died from MND. Stefano was a striker who played for Fiorentina and Milan in my period, around the 90s. He scored in the [European Cup] semi-final in 1990 against Bayern Munich. They didn’t find the reason [for the illness]. We were worried about what happened in the past. The treatment that we had then is not the treatment that we have now. Now we have to support the research for the future.”

Ancelotti says he regularly undergoes medical check-ups, concerned about the after effects of his playing career.

“Until now I didn’t have problems but of course I am worried about this,” he said. “I do not know what happened to me or what kind of treatment I had. I can try to understand now what happened to me in the past but the fact that I had six surgeries on my knees means something went wrong. The fact that I had surgery on my cervical spine means something went wrong when I was a player. But that was the past.

“We have to work for the future of the players playing now and fortunately things have improved a lot on the physical aspect and prevention. Now players are doing a safe job. I cannot say my job was safe when I played. It would be wrong for me to say that.

“I like to have a check myself every year and until now — apart from my knees that are not so good — the other things are ok. I feel healthy and that’s it. I can not run as I want. I can not play as I wanted, but that’s it. From the other aspect I am ok.”